The Hispanic vote in the 2016 presidential elections could turn on a single surprising issue — global warming.
A new poll from The New York Times, Stanford University and Resources for the Future (RFF) finds that unlike the prevailing political wisdom on Hispanic issues, Hispanics care more deeply about global warming and the need for the government to take action to battle climate change than do non-Hispanic American voters, the Times reports
The poll found
that 54 percent of Hispanics consider global warming "extremely" or "very" important, as compared to just 37 percent of non-Hispanics, while 67 percent of Hispanics said inaction on global warming would hurt them personally, compared to only half of non-Hispanic respondents.
Some 63 percent of Hispanics say the federal government should act to reduce the threat of global warming, compared to 49 percent of non-Hispanics.
Translated into campaign terms, the poll indicates that candidates seeking Hispanic votes neglect emphasizing action on global warming at their political peril.
Gabriel Sanchez, associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico and director of research at Latino Decisions, told the Times: "There's a stereotype that Latinos are not aware of or concerned about these issues, but Latinos are actually among the most concerned about the environment, particularly global warming."
The poll replicates results from a Pew Research Center survey
in 2013, which found that 76 percent of Hispanics believe in global warming, and 59 percent believe human activity is at fault, as compared to 62 percent of non-Hispanics believing in climate change and just 41 percent attributing it to human activity.
A larger percentage of Hispanics than non-Hispanics, 48 percent versus 23 percent, identify as Democrats, while only 15 percent of Hispanics identify as Republicans, as compared to 27 percent of non-Hispanic respondents, the poll found.
Sanchez told the Times: "The most important thing is that candidates have to think about the Latino population as complex. To ignore the environment is to ignore something that a large section of the Latino population sees as important."
Two-thirds of Hispanics supported President Obama's proposal to spend $3 billion on the Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries deal with climate change, while two-thirds of non-Hispanics oppose the plan, the Times reports.
However, Republicans question the poll's political implications, with Republican pollster Whit Ayres telling the Times: "The real issue here is whether a dollar spent fighting climate change is better than a dollar spent improving schools, healthcare or national security.
"Most Republicans are going to find greater political advantage in promoting credible plans to strengthen the economy, improve education and make progress on a host of other issues, including immigration, rather than climate change."
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