Sen. John Barrasso campaigns at home in Wyoming in July of 2017. The location of the photo was not identified on Sen. Barrasso’s website. (Sen. John Barrasso’s website)

Eighty-two percent of Wyoming voters believe elected officials in Washington D.C. do not reflect their values, a poll released Thursday says.

When it comes to elected officials in the state itself, 59 percent of respondents said local officials generally reflect voters’ beliefs.

The 2018 Conservation in the West Poll randomly quizzed 400 Wyoming voters, 67 percent of whom were registered Republicans. The survey had a 4.9 percent error margin, was conducted for the eighth year in a row, and covered seven other Western states alongside Wyoming.

Colorado College released the findings in its State of the Rockies Project at the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver where gear and clothing makers meet this week. The trade show is sponsored in part by the Outdoor Industry Association, which abandoned its traditional Salt Lake City venue this year because of Utah’s public-lands policies, seen as detrimental to the industry.

Voters were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “Elected officials in Washington, D.C. generally reflect my values.” They responded to a similar question regarding elected officials in Wyoming.

The Wyoming poll also found that more than three-quarters — 76 percent — of state voters would rather conserve water, recycle it or reduce use than divert water from rural to urban areas.

The survey also found 55 percent of Equality-state voters back the state’s conservation plans for greater sage grouse. A minority of 38 percent would see Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke change those plans to allow more oil and gas production and other activities.

Wyoming was the only state in which respondents said they approved of President Trump’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife. The 59 percent approval buttressed observations that Wyoming “tends to be a bit of an outlier,” pollster Dave Metz told an audience at the trade show during a live-streamed presentation. Voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah also were polled in the survey that contacted 3,200 persons overall through cell and landline telephones.

Wyoming voters also supported Trump’s handling of the economy — at a rate of 67 percent. Eighty-seven percent consider themselves to be outdoor recreation enthusiasts, 80 percent called themselves conservationists, and 51 percent labeled themselves conservatives.

Regarding energy development, 77 percent of Wyoming voters support using updated equipment and technology to reduce methane leaks during natural gas production. A slight margin — 46 percent to 40 percent — favored expanding public land available to private firms to mine uranium and other metals.

The question of opening public lands to oil and gas drilling showed a one-point margin — 45 percent to 44 percent — favoring expansion.

Asked to rank issues by their importance, Wyoming voters put dependence on fossil fuels (72 percent thought the issue was serious) ahead of wildfires (69 percent) and low river flows (67 percent).

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Thirty percent ranked wind power as best representing the future of energy in the state. But 30 percent also said coal has the most potential to help Wyoming’s economy.

The poll was conducted in what organizers said was a bipartisan manner by Public Opinion Strategies, representing the GOP, and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, representing Democrats. Public Opinion Strategies also conducted the Wyoming Education Association’s school funding poll.


Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at or (307)...

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