Attention, climate-denying politicians: Latino voters, an emerging electoral powerhouse, care about the environment.
That’s the message of a new study combining recent poll results. Nine national and state surveys conducted over the past three years show Latinos expressing growing concern about the environment, with more than 70 percent worried about global warming.
Maite Arce, chief executive of the Hispanic Access Foundation, which released the report on the findings, said the results show Latinos support more environmental protection for parks and public lands, and are willing to support candidates that share those values.
“The Latino population is the fastest-growing segment in the country—their engagement in conservation is critical and could have a far-reaching impact,” Arce said in a statement.
So why haven’t we heard much from Hispanic groups before on the issue?
Adrianna Quintero, senior attorney with the Natural Resources and Defense Council, told Aljazeera America that a dearth of surveys polling Latinos for their take on environmental issues is to blame.
“The assumption is that the only issue we, as a community, care about is immigration,” she said.
A 2013 NRDC survey showed that nine out of 10 Latino voters back taking action on climate change.
“Clean air and water, preserving public lands, climate change, and promoting clean energy solutions are all matters of concern for this rapidly growing electorate,” Adrian Pantoja, senior analyst for Latino decisions and a professor of political studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said in a statement.
What do the new findings mean for the November midterm elections? Most likely stronger support for Democratic candidates, as environmental issues continue to skew toward the blue side of the aisle.
The research showed that 78 percent of Latino voters are more likely to support a candidate who wants to limit pollution that causes climate change.
“Decision-makers and advocates with national and regional constituencies will need to demonstrate their attention to these concerns and policy preferences as the Latino population and electorate continues to grow into the foreseeable future,” Pantoja said.