Where do candidates and voters stand on the importance of the environment?

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    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders

    Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders

    A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that of the top priority issues for voters this year, the environment comes in at 12th place, wedged between trade policy and abortion. But the study shows it’s the issue with the biggest priority discrepancy between the candidates.

    In other words, while a majority of supporters for both candidates agree that the economy is “very important” in determining their vote, there’s a bigger divergence when it comes to the environment. Just 32 percent of Donald Trump supporters consider the environment “very important,” while 69 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters do.

    Some of that came through at the Democratic National Convention this week. For example, Jim Cohen, a delegate alternate from Minnesota and a Bernie Sanders supporter, said the environment is one of the three most fundamental issues for him. He said he was glad it made it into the party platform.

    “I’m satisfied that no matter what the specific words may be, the party gestalt, the overall commitment of this party, is to bring about a very healthy environment in every sense of the word, and that’s what the millenials want, and that’s what we owe to the next generations,” Cohen said. But like other attendees The Pulse spoke with, he was also quick to pivot to other issues – immigration, treatment of minorities – that also happen to fall higher up on Pew’s list of voters’ priorities.

    As Trump and Clinton focus on the general election, the environment probably won’t overtake the economy and terrorism as the most important issue for voters. But since it is one of the issues that really sets the candidates apart – in ideology, vision, and base support – it could come up more often, and more forcefully.

    To listen to the full interview between Pulse Host Maiken Scott and Pulse Environment Reporter Irina Zhorov, listen to the audio above. 

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