From: Margaret Lillard, Associated Press
Published September 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Survey Shows Voters Care about Environment, But Not Necessarily at the Ballot Box

RALEIGH, N.C. — A vast majority of voters favors stronger policies to protect the environment, but the issue still ranks low on their list of priorities, according to a survey released Tuesday.


The survey found that 79 percent favor "stronger national standards to protect our land, air and water," including 40 percent who strongly support the idea. But only 22 percent said environmental issues played a major role in their recent voting.


The survey was conducted by Hart Associates and Public Opinion Strategies for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University


"There is a clear disconnect here," William K. Reilly, former EPA head and chair of the institute's advisory board, said in a statement accompanying the results.


The poll found several reasons for the gap between voters' attitudes toward the environment and their actions on election days.


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It found that a majority believe environmental problems are not as bad as they used to be; that stronger environmental standards might bring higher taxes and hurt the economy; and that the issue is not as urgent as jobs and health care.


Only 10 percent of voters identified the environment as one of their top concerns, compared to 34 percent for the economy and jobs.


The survey was released Tuesday in Washington by Tim Profeta, director of the institute, as part of a three-day environmental summit on the Duke campus in Durham.


The organization surveyed 800 registered voters nationwide and conducted focus groups of voters in Columbus, Ohio, and Knoxville, Tenn. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent.


Source: Associated Press


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