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  by  Roy Beck

Anti-growth is a 90-to-10 voter issue in Colorado that almost no elected, corporate or civic leaders in the state are talking about in this election season.

A new poll of 1,024 likely voters by Rasmussen Reports found that:

  • 90% desired a future in which far fewer people move into the state.
  • Nearly three of every five voters (59%) preferred either a complete stop to population growth or a decline in the current population size of Colorado.

Voters feel their beloved state is losing many of the attributes that they have most treasured.

The poll was sponsored by the non-profit NumbersUSA Education & Research Foundation, which advocates for establishing annual immigration numbers that allow for the stabilizing of the U.S. population. Pew Research indicates that nearly all of the yearly growth in the U.S. population -- about 2 million people per year in the last decade -- is driven by the federal government's immigration policies. (See wording and answers to the entire poll.)

The survey asked voters what they thought about urban and suburban development:

[Question] The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculates that Colorado, over the last four decades, has turned more than 1,250 square miles of Open Space, natural habitat, and agricultural land into housing, shopping malls, streets and other urban development. On balance, has this made Colorado a better place to live, a worse place to live or did it not have much effect?"

Colorado is a WORSE place to live, said two of every three (62%) Colorado voters. (14% said the development made the state a better place to live.)

Most voters felt that the state doesn't need any additional development. Three of five voters (61%) said there already is too much development in the state, while one in three voters (31%) said the state has developed "as much as it should." (Only 8% said Colorado has had too little development.)

Part of what bothered voters is the loss of Open Space between cities along the Front Range:

[Question] If recent trends continue, Colorado demographers project that the state's human population of 5.8 million will grow by another 1.8 million by 2050, joining Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins together into a single mega-city.' Do you find this prospect to be more positive or more negative?"

"More negative," said 76% of voters. (13% said "more positive.")

Traffic was clearly on their minds. Long a contentious issue in Colorado, traffic snarls along the Front Range and into the mountains on Int. 70 have gotten far worse over the last decade.

[Question] "If Colorado adds another 1.8 million residents, do you expect traffic to become much worse or would the government be able to build enough extra transportation capacity to accommodate the extra residents without more congestion?"

Voters could not imagine government handling all those extra residents, with 81% saying "traffic will become much worse."

How Voters Would Slow Growth

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Most Colorado voters wanted to make it harder for out-of-staters to move into the state.

[Question] A major source of Colorado's population growth is people moving in from other states, especially California. Should local and state governments in Colorado make it more difficult for people to move to Colorado from other states by restricting development?"

By a 63%-to-17% margin, voters said YES.

Another major source of Colorado's population growth is federal immigration policies that provide new foreign-born residents and their children to Colorado but also add to population problems in other states such as California that drive U.S.-born residents to move to less-congested mountain states .

The majority of Colorado voters (53%) supported reducing annual U.S. immigration as a way to slow down the state's population growth and the pressure to develop more and more farmland and natural habitat.

Coloradans Love Their Natural Assets

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The majority of Coloradans wanted to shut down growth to protect the state's natural attributes that urban growth is devouring.

  • 78% said "from an environmental standpoint," it is "very important" to "preserve Colorado's mountains, native grasslands, rivers, forests, and canyons." (Only 3% said it is not important.)

The bitter fruits of decades of rapid population growth -- clogged highways, insufficient rural parking spaces, often-overcrowded trails and parks, urban encroachment on nearby nature areas -- have made it more and more annoying and difficult to enjoy the environment that Coloradans treasure.

  • Two of every three voters (63%) said it is "very important" to them that they "can easily get to Natural Areas and Open Space."
  • Another 26% said it is "somewhat important." (Only 9% said it is not important.)
  • Two of three voters (65%) said the state's parks, neighborhoods, schools and roads have become "much more crowded" in recent years.

Because the political apparatus of Colorado -- on both sides of the aisle -- is so entrenched with the growth industry, polling in the state rarely asks questions about attitudes toward growth. With the results of this poll, NumbersUSA hopes to educate the media, public and decision-makers in Colorado by drawing attention to the profound distance between public policy and voters' interests about growth. (Read the Rasmussen story about its poll.)

ROY BECK is Founder of NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Aug 11th 2022 @ 3:24pm EDT

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