As the fall 2006 election campaigns kick into higher gear, a national poll published May 23, 2006, by the National Wildlife Federation offers insights about hunters and anglers that may surprise you, your audience, and campaign strategists. NWF says this is the first comprehensive national survey of hunters and anglers on climate change and energy issues.
Hunters and anglers make up about 20% of all voters. Most of those polled are middle-aged males in small towns and rural areas. Half are evangelical Christians who voted 2-1 in favor of President Bush in 2004, and nearly three-quarters consider themselves political conservatives or moderates.
But their views on topics such as climate change and energy may not mesh with your audience's expectations of this demographic. For instance, about three-quarters said climate change is occurring, and that these changes already are affecting their hunting and fishing. More than 80% say the US is addicted to oil, and that the Bush administration and Congress aren't doing enough to help the country kick the habit. More than two-thirds say the country is on the wrong track addressing all energy needs.
For solutions, more than three-fourths support increasing energy conservation and expanding the use of renewable fuels, about two-thirds favor politicians who support strong laws and immediate action to address climate change, and only a little more than a quarter favor politicians who boost only voluntary efforts.
The poll was conducted for NWF by a company called Responsive Management, and includes responses from 1,000 or so hunters and anglers randomly selected in all 50 states in spring 2006.
The results surprised both organizations, especially for the consistency and intensity of opinions, regardless of the demographics or geographic location of the respondents.
- NWF: Ben McNitt, 202-797-6855. Release (includes links to both the national poll and additional state polls for AR, FL, MI, MN, and SC; PA expected to be added soon).
Reading between the lines, Responsive Management Executive Director Mark Damian Duda (540-432-1888) guesses that the strong responses may not necessarily lead to the sportsmen actually voting differently this fall, since most voters consider multiple issues. But he suspects these opinions could readily lead to vote switching in a year or two if climate change and energy issues aren't dealt with in a way the sportsmen would like.
A 2004 poll conducted for NWF by a different pollster also found strong interest by hunters and anglers in a variety of environmental protections. But a comparison of the four questions that were similar in the two polls shows a markedly greater interest in addressing climate change and energy issues in 2006 (contact NWF's McNitt for a copy of the 2004 survey and the 2004-2006 comparison).
A spokeswoman for the US Sportsmen's Alliance, Beth Ruth (614-888-4868 x214), says she has never seen these particular topics evaluated in a poll. However, she emphasizes that the NWF survey results reflect only the opinions of the respondents, not scientific findings about climate.
For many other details about your state's hunters and anglers, check out the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
Some of this federal survey information was used by two organizations trying to sway Western governors who are in the midst of addressing roadless areas a popular destination of hunters and anglers in order to meet a November 2006 Bush administration deadline. A report released June 7, 2006, by the Sonoran Institute and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership focused on the economic impacts of hunters and anglers.
The groups say that if hunters and anglers nationwide were a corporation, their spending and job-creation would put them No. 11 on the Fortune 500 list, and that they directly spent $2.9 billion in 2000 in AZ, ID, MT, NM, WY, and UT (with much higher numbers estimated for indirect spending impacts); report summary and June 7, 2006, release.
For dozens more sportsmen's groups and related companies and government organizations, see: