Latino Voters Key to Passing Environmentally Friendly Laws

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 05, 2015

A study co-sponsored by nonprofit Hispanic Access Foundation and pollster Latino Decisions found that we have Latino voters to thank for the passage of major environmental state ballot initiatives in the 2014 election cycle. An analysis of how eco-friendly issues fared in California, Colorado, Florida and New Mexico revealed that Hispanics in those states not only expressed overwhelming support for conservation, but voted their ideals, too. 

“This report provides definitive proof to what we’ve seen across the country—there is a significant, growing Latino movement that is both advocating and voting for greater environmental protections of our parks and public lands—and having a real influence on Election Day outcomes on these issues,” Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, said in a statement this week.

In 2014, a National Resources Defense Council study found that more than 85 percent of Latinos cite air and water pollution as “extremely” important issues. And a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and environmental research group Resources for the Future found that Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to view global warming as a problem that impacts them.

The Hispanic Access study illustrates that their concern is translating into action. Pollsters credit the passage of California Proposition 1—a water bond that earmarked $1.5 billion for land conservation—to a voting bloc that was fully 25 percent Latino. And the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative was supported by more than 75 percent of voters in Latino communities, resulting in a state constitutional amendment that protects drinking water and restores wildlife habitats.

If the trend continues, it could impact the 2016 election. Significantly, 63 percent of Hispanics want the federal government to address global warming, at a time when 2016 presidential candidates like Rick Perry deny that climate change exists and Marco Rubio maintains that humans are not responsible for dramatic changes in the environment.