New polls: Latino voters swing green

With four weeks till Election Day, two polls have been released almost simultaneously, heralding Latino Americans as the next big voting block to go green.

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund released a new poll today, surveying Latino voters in four key swing states — Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia.

A quick look at the findings:

In Florida, 52 percent of Latino voters favor increased incentives for wind and solar, meanwhile in Nevada, 73 percent faavor the Environmental Protection Agency putting standards in place to cut carbon emissions.

Meanwhile,  Latino voters in New Mexico say they would support a presidential candidate who backs “standards to reduce toxic mercury pollution from power plants” over one who opposes them, by a margin of 61 percent to 28 percent.

And in Virgina, Latino voters favor higher fuel efficiency standards, and candidates who support them, by a similar margin, 61 percent to 29 percent.

The NRDC figures on Latino voters come from a larger study of environmental views of undecided voters in eight swing states, showing Latino voters follow the larger trends among undecided voters.

Closer to home, the California League of Conservation Voters also commissioned a poll on where Latino voters stand on a range of environmental and clmite change-related issues.

A few of the results:

Latino voters “overwhelmingly” agree– 90 percent — that we can protect the environment and create jobs at the same time.

Two-thirds of Latino voters consider themselves conservationists, large majorities are concerned about pollution in their neighborhoods and communities, and one quarter have at least one family member in their households with asthma.

The California and swing state polls join an increasing number that have been released this season showing Americans of all backgrounds support clean energy, want more of it and see a role for government incentives in building clean, green power options for the country.

What all this leaves out is that energy is not a top concern for voters in this election, it’s still jobs and the economy.

That was perhaps the most important finding of a poll specifically done for last week’s Southern California Energy Summit by Probolsky Research.

Company CEO Adam D. Probolsky presented the findings, showing that in a wide-ranging question about the issues that are most important to those surveyed, energy didn’t even make this list, although environmental issues were in the top 10

When Probolsky asked people about prioritizing alternatives for generating clean energy for the state, close to 70 percent said we should be stablizing gas prices — and that was even before last week’s huge spikes sent everyone into gas price hysteria.

When you put all this together, what emerges is a more realistic picture. When it comes to energy, people’s views are often pragmatic and tied into other, larger issues,  such as jobs, the economy and health, and Latinos are no different.

Whether it will determine how they vote remains to be seen, but they support clean, renewable energy because in the bigger picture, it makes sense.