67% Support Offshore Drilling, 64% Expect it Will Lower Prices
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Most voters favor the resumption of offshore drilling in the United States and expect it to lower prices at the pump, even as John McCain has announced his support for states that want to explore for oil and gas off their coasts.
A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey—conducted before McCain announced his intentions on the issue–finds that 67% of voters believe that drilling should be allowed off the coasts of California, Florida and other states. Only 18% disagree and 15% are undecided. Conservative and moderate voters strongly support this approach, while liberals are more evenly divided (46% of liberals favor drilling, 37% oppose).
Sixty-four percent (64%) of voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that gas prices will go down if offshore oil drilling is allowed, although 27% don’t believe it. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of conservatives say offshore drilling is at least somewhat likely to drive prices down. That view is shared by 57% of moderates and 50% of liberal voters.
Nearly all voters are worried about rising gas and energy prices, with 79% very concerned and 16% somewhat concerned.
McCain is expected to formally call today (Tuesday) for the lifting of the federal moratorium on states being allowed to explore off their coasts for oil and gas deposits. While acknowledging it is only a short-term response, he has described it as a good first step toward reducing U.S. energy dependence on overseas sources.
The Outer Continental Shelf moratorium, passed in 1981, bans exploration for offshore natural gas and oil deposits. Barack Obama, McCain’s opponent for the White House, voted against an effort to lift the ban last year in the Senate. He argued that it was only a short-term solution. National Democratic Party leaders and most environmental organizations for years have strongly opposed efforts to explore for oil off the coast of the U.S.
According to the new survey, 85% of Republicans are in favor of offshore drilling as opposed to 57% of Democrats and 60% of unaffiliated voters. Those who call themselves conservatives favor such drilling 84% to 46% of liberals and 59% of self-designated moderates.
African-American voters are less supportive of such drilling than whites – 58% to 71%.
Women are more skeptical than men about the impact such drilling will have on gas prices: Nearly one out of three male voters (32%) say prices are very likely to go down, a view shared by only 23% of women.
Four out of five Republicans (79%) think prices are likely to fall thanks to offshore drilling, a view shared by only 55% of Democrats. Sixty percent (60%) of unaffiliated voters expect it to happen.
Voters also believe 61% to 22% that oil companies should be required to reinvest at least a portion of their profits into alternative energy research. On this question, liberal and moderate voters are strongly supportive of the proposal while conservatives are more evenly divided (47% of conservatives in favor, 35% opposed)
Data released yesterday showed that Americans believe developing new energy sources is the best long-term solution to the nation’s energy problem. Forty-seven percent (47%) said private companies were more likely to solve the nation’s energy problem than government research programs. But, at the same time, only 52% said companies should be allowed to keep the profits from the discovery of any alternative fuel sources.