Recently the Chesapeake Beach Consulting firm conducted a national public opinion poll among 800 randomly drawn, self-identified hunters and anglers for the National Wildlife Federation. To qualify, a respondent must have indicated they were a hunter, an angler or both as well as a registered voter. The margin of error for this study is plus or minus 3.2% at the 95% confidence level.
It is important to consider the demographics: Gender – 63% Male, 37% Female; Partisanship – 42% Republican, 18% Democrat, 32% Independent (27% indicate they split their ticket when voting) ; Ideology – 10% Liberal, 37% Moderate, 50% Conservative; Type of Sportsperson – 33% Angler, 12% Hunter, 55% Both; Age – 2% 18-29 years old, 10% 30-44, 23% 45-54, 27% 55-64 and 36% 65+.
Here are the results:
- Hunters and anglers tend to be conservative, Republican or Independent, and, they vote.
- Conservation is just as important to them as gun rights (A partisan divide is evident here with 56% of Democrats indicating that gun rights and conservation are equally important while 50% of Republicans believe that gun rights are the most important issue. 50% of Independents believe the two issues are equally important as do 54% of ticket-splitters).
- They favor restoring Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and waterways including smaller creeks and streams. (Bi-partisan support with 94% of Democrats, 78% of Independents and 73% of Republicans favoring restoring Clean Water Act protections to wetlands and waterways).
- They want public lands protected and they want access to these lands that to date have been inaccessible. They want the government to take their needs and desires into account when issuing oil and gas leases. Outdoor recreation in this country contributes $730 billion a year to the U.S. economy. (49% believe protecting public lands should be given priority, even at the risk of limiting the amount of energy supplies such as oil, gas and coal the United States produces. Just 34% favor development of energy supplies even if our public lands suffer).
- They believe global warming is occurring and believe we have a moral responsibility to confront it to protect our children’s future. They also believe that global warming is a cause of the recent hot temperatures we have experienced. (Majorities in every region of the country, both men and women and all age groups agree that global warming is occurring as do 86% of Democrats and 61% of Independents. Republicans split on this question with 45% agreeing and 49% disagreeing. Ticket-splitters agree global warming is occurring by a margin of 67% to 28%. Some 72% agree that we can improve the environment and strengthen the economy by investing in renewable energy technologies that create jobs while reducing global warming pollution.
- They want BP held accountable and want monies collected from fines used for Gulf restoration and not spent on roads, bridges, ports and convention centers.
- Children spending hours each day in front of the television or computer screen and not enough time outdoors is a problem and a threat to the future of wildlife conservation in America. (87% of hunters and anglers believe it is a very serious problem).
While there were only 800 sportsmen surveyed, they were randomly selected from hundreds of thousands of individuals who fell into the hunter/angler category. It is surprising that the Democratic, Republican and Independent sportsmen actually agree on some issues such as global warming and clean waters and want something done about it. It came out in this survey loud and clear.
It would be wise for our politicians to pay attention to the results of this survey. It is estimated that there are 60 million anglers and 30 – 40 million hunters, and outdoor recreation in this country contributes $730 billion a year to the U.S. economy. With that much political and economic clout, the sportsmen should not allow our politicians to skirt these important issues and make them state their positions now, before Election Day.
Then again, maybe they are getting the word. Recently the U.S. Senate voted in favor of two measures important to the sportfishing industry that will, among other things, conserve recreationally-important fish stocks, restore fish habitat and support fishing access. According to the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), the first bill, The Billfish Conservation Act passed and will help restore billfish populations and improve recreational fishing opportunities while concurrently creating jobs and other economic benefits. The second bill, The Sportmen’s Act of 2012 awaits post-election vote. Many of ASA’s top legislative priorities are included in the Sportsmen’s Act, and the recent action taken by the Senate lines up this bill for a vote when it returns in November. This legislation provides for increased access, habitat conservation, protection of traditional fishing equipment and improved fish and wildlife management. *****