Press Release

Morrison Institute Poll Reveals Arizonans’ Increasing Concern About the Environment

Voters rank environment among top three priorities for governor and legislature

PHOENIX – (Oct. 8, 2020) The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University and Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust released findings from a poll that shows concerns about the environment are growing among Arizonans, as is the desire for state and federal leaders and policy makers to address environmental issues like climate change and protecting the state’s water supply and air quality.

The poll, conducted in early 2020, updates a similar poll the Trust commissioned Morrison Institute to administer in 2017 to gain an understanding of Arizona voters’ opinions and perceptions about environmental topics.

Some of the key findings in the 2020 poll include:

  • Arizona voters rank the environment among their top three priorities for the governor and legislature to address, with improving the public education system the top priority and making health care more accessible and affordable the second.
  • 64% of respondents said protecting the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of slowing economic growth.
  • Belief that government needs to do more to combat climate change jumped significantly. In 2020, 51% of Arizonans strongly agreed the federal government needs to do more; the number was 38% in 2017. Voters want more action from state leaders, too. The number of Arizonans who strongly agree state government needs to do more on climate change grew to 45% in 2020 from 33% in 2017.
  • 62% of Arizonans do not believe the state has enough water to meet needs for the next 50 years. Nearly one in five said they “don’t know” whether there is enough water, indicating a knowledge gap among voters about a critical quality of life issue.
  • 87% of voters in 2020 believe environmental issues facing Arizona, such as water and air quality, land and water use, and wildlife protections are serious or very serious and need to be addressed immediately.

“It is evident Arizonans have growing concerns about the environment and want elected leaders to act,” said Trust Chair Carol Peden Schilling. “As advocates for an informed and engaged public, we hope Arizonans will call for focused conversations about their environmental priorities in the halls of the state capitol, county commissions and corporate offices across the state.”

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust was established in 1997 to support the causes about which Nina Mason Pulliam, an Arizona newspaperwoman and humanitarian, cared deeply; one of those was nature. In recent years, the Trust refined its focus on the environment and in early 2020, announced an $8.8 million, five-year environmental roadmap for Arizona, to protect and restore the Verde River, open spaces and wildlife habitat in Arizona, and increase awareness of environmental issues. The roadmap brings the Trust’s total investment in Arizona’s environment to $31.6 million.

“In addition to investing in nonprofit organizations and initiatives dedicated to protecting nature, we also are focused on raising awareness about environmental issues,” said Trust President and CEO Gene D’Adamo. “The words of Baba Dioum, a Senegalese forester, resonate, ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.’

“We are encouraged to see Arizonans expressing not only concern about the environment, but a desire for government leaders to act,” continued D’Adamo. “We hope state and local leaders, businesses, conservationists and citizens will come together on behalf of nature in Arizona.”

For both the 2017 and 2020 surveys, the Morrison Institute polled a representative sample of 800 registered voters. The sample was designed to match the political and demographic characteristics of Arizona according to the most recent voter data. The polls have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

To read the full survey report, visit

About the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust seeks to help people in need, especially women, children and families; to protect animals and nature; and to enrich community life, primarily in Phoenix and Indianapolis. The Trust has awarded more than $334 million in grants and student scholarships since its inception in 1997. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Teri Walker
Manager of Communications and External Relations
Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust
AZ: 480-887-0083 | IN: 317-231-9207