Pollster memo on western voters and renewable energy poll

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Memo from Mark Mehringer, Peak Campaigns and Christine Matthews, Bellwether Research & Consulting:

This bi-partisan poll conducted by our research firms during August 2012 shows that voters supports wind and solar energy development on public lands, and overwhelmingly want federally collected revenues (rents) from those projects dedicated to offsetting their impacts on wildlife habitat and recreation areas. This broad support cuts across all demographic lines.

Voters feel that restoring fish and wildlife habitat and setting aside key areas for parks, refuges and conservation areas will help balance the unavoidable impacts of these large projects even when they are well-sited.

Below we highlight several key findings from this research.

  • Western voters strongly support responsible renewable energy on public lands. A large majority (73%) of Western voters supports the responsible production of wind and solar energy on public lands. Opposition is very low (only14%).
  • The vast majority of voters in the West (72%) supports setting aside a portion of rent monies for the benefit of wildlife and land conservation. Support is even broader when given information about returning revenues already collected to conservation activities and local communities.

Support also crosses geographic and ideological lines. At least six in ten Western voters across all major demographic groups favor this proposal, including…

  • 67% of seniors
  • 68% Republicans
  • 76% of Latinos
  • 73% of women

Not even one voter in three in any demographic group opposes redistributing solar and wind companies’ rents.

When it comes to the use of conservation dollars from solar and wind energy rents, most Western voters strongly favor conservation of key areas.

  • Voters are most supportive of restoring fish and wildlife habitat (85%) and setting aside key areas for parks, refuges, and conservation areas (81%).
  • This sentiment is particularly intense toward restoration of fish and wildlife habitat, as 6 in 10 respondents strongly favor this approach.

Peak Campaigns and Bellwether Research conducted a public opinion poll of 1,000 voters across the 11 states of the West, with an oversample of voters in Arizona, Oregon and Washington to ensure at least 400 interviews in each state. Calling took place July 30 to August 5, 2012. Maximum margin of error for a random sample of 1,000 voters is 3.1%.