Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why Republicans Could Have Trouble Winning the Latino Vote, in One Poll

Latino voters support environmental laws and action on climate change, polls show. (Credit: Thinkprogress/Shutterstock/Patrick Smith) Click to Enlarge.
A new poll released Tuesday suggests Republicans could have a tough time winning over a key voting bloc next year if they don’t start taking environmental issues seriously.

Nearly three-quarters of voting Latinos — one of the fastest-growing demographics in America — think it is “important” that the United States acts on climate change, according to the poll, released by Earthjustice and GreenLatinos.  More Latinos think it is important to reduce smog and to increase water conservation than to fix immigration policies, the poll of registered Latino voters found.  The poll also found that 90 percent of Latinos want to strengthen the Clean Water Act, and 85 percent want to reduce smog and air pollution.

“For Latinos, our strong positions on questions pertaining to the importance of stewardship of our natural environment and conservation of resources reflect long-held cultural tenets taught to us not as environmentalism, but based more on common sense, economic necessity, and good citizenry,” Mark Magaña, president and founder of GreenLatinos, said in a statement.

American Latinos are three times more likely to die from asthma than other racial or ethnic groups, and about half the country’s Latino population lives in regions that frequently violate clean air rules, according to the National Hispanic Medical Association.  This discrepancy is even more dramatic for low-income Latinos.  Almost a quarter of low-income Hispanic and Puerto Rican children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma, in comparison to one in 13 middle-class or wealthy white children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Latinos are very concerned about climate change” and, more specifically, air and water pollution, Gary Segura, co-founder of Latino Decisions, told ThinkProgress.  “They see pollution as directly affecting their families.”

And as the climate warms, that vulnerability will only worsen:  the increase in ozone levels associated with rising temperatures is predicted to drive up asthma-related U.S. hospital admissions.

In addition, many American Latinos are one or two generations away from their country of origin, Segura said, which means many have strong ties to developing nations — which are also more at risk from the effects of climate change.

“They also see climate change affecting their countries of origin,” Segura said.

Most Latinos believe climate change is human-caused, the poll found.  The findings are consistent with earlier polling.  A 2014 poll by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that nine out of 10 Latinos in the United States — including 68 percent of Republican Latinos — want the country to take action against climate change.

Read more at Why Republicans Could Have Trouble Winning the Latino Vote, in One Poll

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