August 20, 2008 - Gas Prices Gaining As Americans' Biggest Worry, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Voters Back Offshore Oil Drilling 2 - 1

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American likely voters are increasingly worried about the energy crisis or gas prices and support by large margins almost every measure to solve the energy crisis, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

In an open-ended question, where respondents can give any answer, likely voters nationwide were asked to identify the most important problem facing the country today. Results are:
  • 44 percent list the economy;
  • 12 percent cite the war in Iraq;
  • 10 percent say the energy crisis or gas prices;
  • 4 percent each for health care and terrorism.
This is the highest listing for energy costs in seven years of national polls by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Americans favor 62 - 32 percent drilling for oil in currently protected offshore areas. Republicans back offshore drilling 82 - 12 percent, while Democrats back it 50 - 43 percent and independent voters say drill 60 - 36 percent.

Because of rising gas prices, 49 percent of American voters say they have changed their summer vacation plans. A total of 67 percent of voters say gas prices are a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem for them and their family.

"Americans worry about gasoline prices and half say prices have forced them to change their vacation plans," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Before this summer, this issue barely rated a mention. Now voters say gas prices are a bigger problem than health care or terrorism and almost as big a problem as Iraq."

By a narrow 37 - 32 percent margin, voters say Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has a better program than Arizona Sen. John McCain for dealing with the energy crisis and making America less dependent on foreign oil. Another 30 percent are undecided. Democrats say 66 - 10 percent that Obama has the better plan, while Republicans prefer McCain 63 - 11 percent. Independent voters split with 32 percent for McCain and 31 percent for Obama.

In addition to offshore drilling, American voters support every measure suggested to help solve the energy crisis and reduce dependence on foreign oil:
  • 56 - 35 percent in favor of building new nuclear plants;
  • 51 - 42 percent back drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge;
  • 87 - 10 percent back government funds for renewable energy such as wind and solar power;
  • 78 - 18 percent for mandating higher mileage standards for cars.
On releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, 47 percent of voters are opposed while 45 percent support the measure.

A total of 86 percent of American voters say the overall economy is "not so good" or "poor," while one percent say "excellent" and 12 percent say "good." Their biggest financial worry is the price of gas, 34 percent say, down from 50 percent July 15. Another 21 percent worry most about health care costs and 18 percent worry most about food prices.

If Sen. Obama is elected President, the economy will get better, 38 percent say, while 22 percent say it will get worse and 29 percent say it will stay the same. The economy will get better if Sen. McCain is elected, 20 percent say, while 21 percent say it will get worse and 49 percent say it will stay the same.

"Americans are focusing a lot of thought on the problem of energy," Carroll said. "A majority would favor development of nuclear power. An even larger number, including a narrow majority of Democrats, supports offshore oil drilling, which is a Republican solution.

"And overwhelming majorities would like to see government funding for wind and solar power and biofuels and better mileage standards in new autos, which are Democratic solutions."

From August 12 -17, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,547 likely voters nationwide, with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and nationwide as a public service and for research. For more data -- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201.

4. What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?
                     LIKELY VOTERS
                     Tot
 
Economy Total        44%
 Economy general     32
 Unemployment/jobs    5
 Cost of living       5
 Business leaving/
  Outsourcing         1
 Economy other        1
 
War (Iraq)           12%
 
Energy crisis/
 Gas prices Total    10%
 Energy costs/
  Crisis general      4
 Gas prices           3
 Oil prices/Crisis    3
 
Healthcare/ Costs/
  Ins/HMO's           4%
 
Terrorism Total       4%
 Terrorism general    2
 Security/Safety      2
 
Politicians Total     2%
 Politicians/
  Campaigns general   1
 Political corruption 1
 
Budget Total          2%
 Budget general       1
 Budget deficits      1
 
Education general     2%
 
Immigration           2%
 
Lack of ethics/
 Morality             2%
 
Crime/Violence
 General              1
Environment/Pollution 1
Family breakdown/
 Family values        1
Foreign affairs/
  policy general      1
Taxes general         1
 
Other                 4%
DK/NA                 3%
 
 
11. In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in the nation today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Very satisfied        2%     3%     0%     2%     2%     1%     1%     1%
Smwht satisfied      19     29     10     21     22     16     21      8
Smwht dissatisfied   41     46     39     37     37     44     41     38
Very dissatisfied    38     23     50     40     39     37     36     52
DK/NA                 1      -      1      1      -      1      1      1
 
TREND: In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in the nation today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.
                     Aug 20  Jul 15
                     2008    2008
 
Very satisfied        2       2
Smwht satisfied      19      15
Smwht dissatisfied   41      40
Very dissatisfied    38      42
DK/NA                 1       1
 
 
12. Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Right thing          35%    63%     9%    36%    38%    32%    39%     8%
Wrong thing          59     30     87     56     57     60     54     86
DK/NA                 6      6      4      8      5      7      6      6
 
TREND: Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.
                     Aug 20  Jul 15
                     2008    2008
 
Right thing          35      34
Wrong thing          59      59
DK/NA                 6       7
 
 
13. Regardless of how you intend to vote, what would you prefer the next president do about the war in Iraq? A)Begin immediately a withdrawal of American troops, with a fixed date to have them all out within 18 months. OR B)Keep troops in Iraq until the situation is more stable, and then begin to withdraw them, without a fixed date for full withdrawal.
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Imm withdrawal/
 fixed date          43%    22%    64%    42%    40%    46%    38%    74%
Keep troops/without
 fixed date          51     75     30     53     56     48     57     20
DK/NA                 6      3      6      6      4      6      5      6
 
TREND: Regardless of how you intend to vote, what would you prefer the next president to do about the war in Iraq - Begin immediately a withdrawal of American troops with a fixed date to have them all out within 18 months OR Keep troops in Iraq until the situation is more stable and then begin to withdraw them without a fixed date for full withdrawal?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.
                     Aug 20  Jul 15
                     2008    2008
 
Imm withdrawal/
 fixed date          43      43
Keep troops/without
 fixed date          51      51
DK/NA                 6       5
 
 
14. Would you describe the state of the nation's economy these days as - Excellent, good, not so good, or poor?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Excellent             1%     1%     -      1%     1%     -      1%     -
Good                 12     23      3     12     15      9     14      4
Not so good          44     49     44     40     42     46     45     35
Poor                 42     26     53     45     41     44     40     60
DK/NA                 1      1      -      1      1      1      1      1
 
 
15. Which best describes your family's financial situation - Getting ahead, falling behind or holding steady?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Getting ahead        11%    13%     8%    11%    14%     8%    10%    12%
Falling behind       26     19     31     27     25     27     25     34
Holding steady       62     67     61     61     60     64     63     54
DK/NA                 1      1      -      2      1      1      1      -
 
TREND: Which best describes your family's financial situation - Getting ahead, falling behind or holding steady?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.
                     Aug 20  Jul 15
                     2008    2008
 
Getting ahead        11      12
Falling behind       26      22
Holding steady       62      65
DK/NA                 1       1
 
 
16. As you think about your own financial situation, which of the following economic issues worries you the most right now -- A) declining retirement fund values, B) declining real estate values, C) rising health care costs, D) rising gasoline prices, or E) rising food prices?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
A) Retirement funds  11%    11%    11%    13%     9%    13%    12%     8%
B) Real estate vals  11     11     10     12     13      9     11     13
C) Health care  cost 21     16     25     21     19     22     22     18
D) Gasoline prices   34     39     31     32     34     33     34     34
E) Food prices       18     18     17     16     18     17     16     23
DK/NA                 6      6      6      6      6      6      6      4
 
TREND: As you think about your own financial situation, which of the following economic issues worries you the most right now -- A) Declining retirement fund values B) Declining real estate values C) Rising health care costs D) Rising gasoline prices E) Rising food prices
                     LIKELY VOTERS.
                     Aug 20  Jul 15
                     2008    2008
 
A) Retirement funds  11      10
B) Real estate vals  11       6
C) Health care cost  21      16
D) Gasoline prices   34      50
E) Food prices       18      12
DK/NA                 6       6
 
 
17. If Barack Obama is elected President, do you think the economy will get better, get worse or stay about the same?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Get better           38%    13%    63%    35%    35%    42%    34%    69%
Get worse            22     42      7     21     26     19     24      5
Stay the same        29     33     23     31     31     27     31     23
DK/NA                11     12      6     13      8     13     11      3
 
 
18. If John McCain is elected President, do you think the economy will get better, get worse or stay about the same?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Get better           20%    37%     9%    18%    23%    18%    21%     8%
Get worse            21      5     34     21     21     21     19     37
Stay the same        49     48     50     48     48     49     50     49
DK/NA                10     10      6     12      8     12     10      6
 
 
19. To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose - Building new nuclear power plants?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              56%    68%    42%    59%    72%    42%    57%    42%
Oppose               35     24     48     30     25     43     33     45
DK/NA                 9      8      9     11      3     15      9     12
 
 
20. To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose - Drilling for new oil supplies in currently protected areas off shore?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              62%    82%    50%    60%    67%    58%    65%    54%
Oppose               32     12     43     36     31     32     30     41
DK/NA                 6      6      7      4      2      9      5      5
 
 
21. To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose - Drilling for new oil in the Alaskan national wildlife refuge?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              51%    75%    37%    45%    59%    44%    54%    33%
Oppose               42     20     55     49     37     46     40     53
DK/NA                 7      4      8      7      3     10      5     14
 
 
22. To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose - A government funded program to develop renewable energy sources like solar power, wind power and biofuels?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              87%    84%    92%    86%    84%    89%    87%    86%
Oppose               10     13      5     12     14      6     10      7
DK/NA                 3      3      3      3      2      4      3      7
 
 
23. To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose - Releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the government's stockpile of oil set aside for emergencies and shortages?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              45%    46%    51%    39%    37%    52%    43%    61%
Oppose               47     47     39     56     60     37     49     33
DK/NA                 8      8     10      5      4     11      7      6
 
 
24. To help solve the energy crisis and make America less dependent on foreign oil, do you support or oppose - Mandating higher mileage standards for cars?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              78%    74%    81%    80%    80%    77%    81%    71%
Oppose               18     23     15     15     17     18     16     25
DK/NA                 4      3      4      4      3      4      3      4
 
 
25. Regardless of whom you support, which candidate for President - Barack Obama or John McCain - has the best program for helping solve the energy crisis and making America less dependent on foreign oil?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Obama                37%    11%    66%    31%    34%    40%    32%    75%
McCain               32     63     10     32     38     28     37      6
DK/NA                30     26     25     37     28     32     31     20
 
 
26. How much of a problem has the price of gasoline been for you and your family lately - a very serious problem, a somewhat serious problem, a not too serious problem, or not a problem at all?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Very serious problem 26%    23%    31%    22%    22%    29%    23%    38%
Smwht serious        41     42     42     40     40     42     43     34
Not too serious      25     27     20     31     29     22     26     19
Not a problem at all  7      8      7      7      9      6      7      8
DK/NA                 -      -      1      -      1      -      -      -
 
 
27. As a result of gas prices, have you changed your summer vacation plans?
                     LIKELY VOTERS.......................................
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Yes                  49%    42%    55%    47%    47%    51%    46%    57%
No                   50     57     44     52     52     48     53     43
DK/NA                 1      2      1      1      1      1      1      -