Poll: Majority of W. Virginia Voters Now Favor Regulation

According to a new public opinion poll with a margin of error of 4.4 percent, a majority of West Virginians now favor regulation. A majority also believe recent events could happen again if no action is taken.

Seventy-three percent of voters polled agreed West Virginia has paid too little attention to addressing threats to air and water, and that the Elk River spill should change that, according to the survey.

Voters of all ages, education levels, incomes and political persuasions agreed, with particularly high agreement — 82 percent — among seniors. [...]

Among other things, the survey found most West Virginians polled do not believe the Freedom Industries spill is an isolated incident. Seven out of 10 voters said serious incidents like the spill would occur unless preventative action is taken. [...]

More than two-thirds of those polled said stronger regulations and better enforcement of existing regulations would have prevented the spill. Fifty-seven percent said federal and state agencies should have stronger standards to prevent future such incidents.

This is all well and good, but will it translate into votes?

Does concern over the local environment and access to clean water outweigh prejudice and animosity? Does concern for the safety of children outweigh the desire to “trim the fat” from government?

It remains to be seen.

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  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    I think it’s incredibly sad that it takes this kind of tragedy, of people being poisoned, particularly children, to make them see the value of government services and regulation. I think THAT is crazy.

    • Draxiar

      It’s incredibly unfortunate that it takes this sort of event to open people’s eyes and see the worth (as opposed to the cost) of regulation. It may not turn votes immediately but it offers some insight which may have an affect in votes later. At least I hope it does.

    • drspittle

      I think that these opinions will not translate into votes for more regulation. I hope I’m wrong.

    • Christopher Foxx

      I think it’s incredibly sad that it takes this kind of tragedy, of people being poisoned, particularly children, to make them see the value of government services and regulation. …

      .. for themselves. I’m sure they’re still eager to “trim the fat” from gov’t for programs that support other people.

  • roxsteady1

    Well said Ashby but, it’s hard to feel sympathy for these folks who continue to vote for Republicans who do the bidding of these dirty energy companies. Let’s hope they learn from this

    • muselet

      West Virginia politicians and the resource-extraction industry which owns them have been selling the public a bill of goods for generations: “All your state is good for is coal mining, and you don’t let coal companies despoil your state, you won’t have any jobs.” Fear is a powerful weapon with which to threaten an impoverished public, and if new regulations are proposed, it will be brandished yet again.

      It’s pretty easy to convince people to vote against their own best interests. I find it hard not to have at least some sympathy for them.

      –alopecia

      • Christopher Foxx

        Fear is a powerful weapon with which to threaten an impoverished public

        Whenever I see someone trying to appeal to my fear I immediately take opposing position. So far, this rule of thumb hasn’t steered me wrong.

        • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

          West Virginia has a lower per capita income than the rest of the country, significantly lower median income, lower high school grad rates, significantly lower college grad rates, a higher percentage of people below the poverty level, less diversity in types of industry than most of the other states and the gap between rich and poor has grown faster in West Virginia than other states (it’s doubled in the last 30 years). The point being that it is easy to prey on the fear of people in this kind of economic environment because they live in a state of fear to begin with and they’re working their asses off to survive–then you throw in ignorance of what’s really going on politically–you have a population that is a prime target for conservative manipulation techniques. I do have sympathy for them….they’re like many members of my own family. All they’ve ever known are the lies and that’s all they’re exposed to currently. It’s a rare, rare person who can grow up in that environment and stay in it and still be able to see beyond it.

          • Christopher Foxx

            They have my sympathy, too. I’m not expecting folks who’ve been fed lies and deliberately left uneducated to see how they’re being manipulated.

        • muselet

          You and me both.

          But threaten the few jobs there are in a poor state like West Virginia, where the only jobs have for generations been in coal mining, and the public will do anything—including endangering themselves and their own children—to try to keep them. The miners are the victims in this story, even if they don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it.

          –alopecia

          • Christopher Foxx

            The miners are the victims in this story, even if they don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it.

            No argument there.

  • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

    It’s a late wake-up for them, since just a few years ago the were calling for less regulation. The truly saddest part? In another generation (20-30 years) they won’t have to be concerned about jobs and the coal industry. That’s because they won’t have any coal left.

    • Ashes Defacto

      I’ve already seen how this will play out here in Oregon. When the resource runs out, in WV it’s coal, in Oregon it was old growth timber. They will be left with a devastated local economy, degraded environment and collapsing social structure. At the same time all efforts to diversify the economy will be met with fierce resistance and much energy with be spent on long shot efforts to bring back the old industry. These areas will continue to send retrograde reactionary politicians to Salem (Washington DC) whose entire message will be that those wackos in Portland (New York, LA, Whatever) are the ones “taking it away from you”. The poisoning of the water supply in WV is just a small taste of things to come.

      • http://cendax.wordpress.com/ Norbrook

        The problem for WV is it doesn’t matter how much energy they spend trying to bring back the old industry. You can’t mine what isn’t there. Trees at least have the up side of growing back in a century or three.

  • Username1016

    Took me a long time to understand why the rural poor vote in lockstep with the capitalist ruling class. You would think their interests were opposite, no? But what they have in common is a laserlike focus on MONEY. Capitalist overlords are all about the money because it’s a game and they’re winning. Rural poor are all about the money because they need some so desperately. So both groups are gung-ho for oil pipleines and fracking! It’s only the middle class that cares about non-monetary stuff like health and the environment.

    Don’t mean to be cynical, but you know, you get cynical.