New Study: Political Affiliation, Minorities, and Nature’s Services

Analysis Shows Conservation Draws Unusual Bipartisan Support

Arlington, Virginia | November 01, 2012

As Americans prepare to go to the polls next week, a new study in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences shows there is strong bipartisan support for conservation initiatives, with minorities especially concerned about the health of the nation’s lands and waters.

The new analysis looked at the intersection of politics and nature, providing insight to the coming elections on November 6, when more than 60 conservation-related state initiatives will be decided by voters across the country. Conservation measures have a historical passage rate of 75% because of bi-partisan support. Some of their findings also address natural services, such as food production and storm protection.

Their analysis highlights several findings:

  • More than three-quarters of those polled believed the United States could have both a strong economy and good land and water protections. (To date Gallup polls have only framed this question as jobs versus the environment).
  • A majority of Americans, including 51.4% of Republicans, would be willing to accept a small increase in state or local taxes to pay for land and water protections.
  • Voters of color were much more likely than white voters to think that natural services (such as the production of marketable products and storm protection) are “extremely important."
  • Conservation communities’ emphasis on protecting nature for its intrinsic values isn’t appealing to self- identified Republicans and Independents. They see nature benefits such of clean water, recreation and economics as reasons for conserving land, water and wildlife.

“These studies reveal that Americans care deeply about the outdoors, and the benefits that nature provides us,” said co-author Hazel Wong, Director of Conservation Campaigns with The Nature Conservancy. “Our elected officials around the country should be aware that it’s in their interest to be responsive to nature’s strong, bipartisan constituency.”

Co-author Michelle Marvier of Santa Clara University commented, “It’s time for conservationists to quit preaching only to the choir. Protecting nature for its own sake is all well and good, but to regain broad public support we need to emphasize and demonstrate that protecting nature is in people’s best interest.”

In addition to the polls included in Wong’s and Marvier’s analysis, a later national poll conducted in Spring of 2012 also reflected strong bipartisan support for the outdoors.

At that time more than 80% of voters believed that “conserving our country's natural resources - our land, air and water - is patriotic.” Support for that statement came from 89% of Democrats; 79% of Independents; 79% of Republicans; and 79% of Tea Party members.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Jon Schwedler
The Nature Conservancy

Deepa Arora
Santa Clara University


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