The 2018 midterm elections were a big win for candidates who campaigned on behalf of public lands. These candidates ended up winning races in nearly every Western state where public lands are top of mind for voters. Here are just some of the messages they used in ads on the campaign trail:
Candidates who specifically campaigned on public lands in TV ads in the above video and won their races include:
Arizona: Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema
California: Representative-elect Katie Hill and Senator Dianne Feinstein
Colorado: Governor-elect Jared Polis
Montana: Senator Jon Tester and Representative Greg Gianforte
Nevada: Governor-elect Steve Sisolak
New Mexico: Senator Martin Heinrich, Representative-elect Xochitl Torres Small, Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Land Commissioner-elect Stephanie Garcia Richard
Across the West, other candidates leaned heavily into public lands issues on social media, including Colorado’s Jason Crow, New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Nevada’s Jacky Rosen:
Earlier this year, the Center for Western Priorities gauged how Western voters view public lands and found that voters overwhelmingly support a balanced approach to conservation and energy development on public lands. Voters also disapproved of a number of Trump administration public lands policies and disliked actions taken by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
“You cannot truly understand the Western electorate without knowing about the outdoor voting tendencies that run strong across all voters,” said Brian Gottlieb of Gottlieb Strategic Research, who conducted the poll.
Throughout the campaign season, Western candidates worked to win over swing voters by taking conservation positions and opposing the administration’s anti-public lands agenda. Their strategy was a sound one: according to the poll 70 percent of Western voters, and 72 percent of ticket splitters, reported that they are motivated to vote when public lands are threatened.
Taking pro-public lands positions paid off. Public lands champions won key federal, state, and local elections in a number of Western states. The results of the election were a strong rejection of President Trump and Secretary Zinke’s agenda.