That Washington

Poll: Despite Redistricting, Reichert's Constituents Still Lefty on Environment

By Erica C. Barnett August 15, 2012

Eighth District residents strongly support the national Land and Water Conservation Fund. 

Despite the fact that redistricting turned US Congressman Dave Reichert's First Congressional District into a far more rural (and thus, presumably, safely Republican) seat, according to a new poll, the district's presumptive conservatism doesn't extend to the

environment. The implication for Reichert is that even with a more conservative voter base, he can't abandon his putative commitment to green legislation.

Reichert is widely seen as a pro-environment Republican, earning endorsements from groups like the League of Conservation Voters, because he frequently votes in favor of environmental legislation. However, that reputation wavered when Reichert was caught on tape saying he only voted with environmentalists to neutralize them at election time (not to mention when he voted for a house transportation bill that slashed transit, bike, and pedestrian funding). And he frequently votes for Republican amendments to water

down environmental legislation before ultimately voting for it to preserve his green reputation.

The poll, by national pollster Public Opinion Strategies, concludes that likely 2012 Eighth District voters "share a strong connection to public lands, natural areas and water in Washington and support policies that protect them." A strong majority went further, saying public lands are one of the best things the US government does. And more than two-thirds disagreed with the statement, “Washington has enough natural areas and public lands, and we do not need to do any more to protect them.”

One big caveat, though: The poll only asked about conservation of public lands, steering clear of other environmental issues (like climate change). Rugged outdoorsmanship sells much better among conservatives than, say, bike lanes or carbon caps. Still, Eighth District voters' overwhelming support for conservation is a sign that Reichert needs to at least pay lip service to the environment (and to ultimately bite the bullet and vote for environmental bills) if he wants to keep his constituents happy.
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