Feb 23, 2024 - News

Arizona voters are increasingly concerned about the environment

Data: Conservation in the West poll, 2024; Note: MOE +/- 3.5%; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Conservation in the West poll, 2024; Note: MOE +/- 3.5%; Chart: Axios Visuals

Cost of living and water security are top of mind for Arizona voters this election year, a new poll shows.

Why it matters: Arizonans expressed more worry about water pollution and hazardous waste impacts than voters in any other Western state.

  • The findings provide a peek into voters' shifting priorities — especially as they pertain to environmental issues.

By the numbers: About 80% of Arizona voters said they are extremely or very concerned about the rising cost of living and low river water levels, according to the 14th annual Conservation in the West poll by Colorado College released earlier this month.

  • The researchers polled more than 3,300 voters across eight Western states in January 2024.

Between the lines: With the West in the middle of a megadrought, Arizonans' water worries are not surprising.

  • But the poll also found growing concerns about climate change and other environmental issues.

The big picture: Researchers polled voters in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana and found heightened environmental concern across all states.

  • The bloc of environmentally minded voters increased to 85% from 75% in 2016, and represented a majority in each major political party and independents.
  • 53% of Western voters were worried about climate change, an increase of 4 points from a year ago.

Zoom in: About 85% of Arizonans surveyed said issues related to clean water, clean air, wildlife and public lands are important when deciding whether to support an elected official.

  • Regarding potential solutions, the survey found 82% or more people supported requiring oil and gas companies to pay for cleanup and land restoration costs after drilling, limiting light pollution on public lands, creating new national parks and monuments and building wildlife crossings at major highways.

Reality check: The poll didn't capture the potential downsides of the proposals, putting their actual level of support in doubt.

The bottom line: "This year we've seen the widest margin in favor of conservation," pollster Dave Metz of FM3 Research said.

  • It's remarkable, he said, because it comes at a time when economic pressure against conservation is the "highest it's been in years."
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