Decline-to-state voters increasingly favor environmental safeguards

Two out of three of California’s decline-to-state voters consider themselves conservationists, believe climate change is a growing problem that needs to be addressed and say environmental regulations provide critical protections for air, land and water, according to a new survey.

The statewide survey commissioned by the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund is “the first of its kind to explore in detail DTS voters’ opinions on many of today’s most controversial issues and that is being shared with the broader public,” the group said in releasing the results.

The telephone survey by pollster Ben Tulchin was conducted Oct. 27 through Nov. 2 of 600 likely decline-to-state voters using live, professional interviewers. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent. A copy of the survey announcement can be found here.

The CLCV’s Education Fund, which released the survey results, notes that it is the non-partisan voter engagement arm of the environmental movement in California.

Decline-to-state, or DTS, voters are an increasing portion of the electorate and now account for about a fifth of all voters.

According to the latest report from the secretary of state’s office, about 3.5 million California voters declined to state a political preference.

Of California’s 23.6 million people who are eligible to vote, about 17.2 million have actually registered. Of those, 7.6 million identified themselves as Democrats, 5.3 million were Republicans, 3.5 million were DTS and the remainder were divided among the Green, American Independent, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties, among other groups. Of the smaller registration groups, the American Independent Party had the most registrants, 417,000.

According to the survey, 65 percent consider themselves to be “conservationists,” and 63 percent said climate change is a problem that “needs to be addressed.” Some 69 percent of those surveyed said that environmental regulations provide important benefits to society.

In contrast, about a fifth of DTS voters surveyed believe environmental regulations do more harm than good.

Warner Chabot, CEO of the CLCV Education Fund, said the results show that “a growing and increasingly influential segment of California voters – those Californians who decline to state an affiliation with any political party – care about the environment and support policies that protect our air, land and water.”

Over the last decade the decline-to-state voters have doubled in size and are about 80 percent of all swing voters, the fastest-growing voter bloc in California. This nonpartisan group of voters now holds considerable electoral power,” he added.

Tulchin said the results are significant for potential political candidates.

 “These survey results clearly indicate to any candidate running for office in California today that strongly supporting tough laws to protect our air, land and water is a very effective way to win over DTS voters,” Tulchin said.

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