Environment Ranks Low Among Voter Concerns

Environment Ranks Low Among Voter Concerns

4:56am Sep 29, 2014

It’s been a big year for environmental news in North Carolina. First there was a major coal ash spill into the   Dan River in February that raised concerns about water quality. 

And there’s been a push for more hydraulic fracturing – better known as “fracking.” It’s led to packed houses at town hall meetings across the region. 

But these issues aren’t likely to change the political landscape. That’s according to Jason Husser. He’s an assistant professor of political science at Elon University and also works on the university’s poll. He spoke with WFDD’s Paul Garber about where the environment ranks among voters and where it could make a difference.

Husser says don't look for environmental issues to change much at the top-of-the-ticket races such as the U.S. Senate race. But when there's a big issue such as a spill that can have an impact on property values, voters could hold more local candidates responsible.

If nothing else, Husser says candidates have had to learn to talk differently about the environment than they have in the past.

Writing for the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog in May, Husser touched on polling results that indicated a possible effect on the U.S. Senate race. The result indicated, as Husser wrote, that "[k]nowing about the coal ash spill doubles the chance that voters feel unfavorably toward Tillis and significantly reduces their chance of feeling favorably toward him."

Husser says with the coal ash spill now several months away and Election Day getting closer, that effect is not likely to be as prominent.

Also worth noting, the Elon Poll just received high marks by noted statistician Nate Silver, who has done political forecasts for the New York Times and is founder and editor-in-chief ofthe  FiveThirtyEight blog.

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