Large majorities of American voters think the federal government and the oil company BP could be doing more to halt the disaster on the Gulf Coast.
A new poll released Friday by Fox News shows that few voters -- less than one in four -- think the federal government (24 percent) and BP (23 percent) are doing everything possible to combat the oil spill.
About 7 in 10 think there is more each organization could be doing to stop the leak and clean up the mess.
Even so, about twice as many voters approve of the how the Obama administration (41 percent) is dealing with the spill than with how BP is handling it (19 percent).
But approvers are in the minority. Just over half of voters disapprove of how the administration is handling the spill, while most voters -- 73 percent -- rate the job BP is doing negatively.
In President Obama’s oval office speech about the oil spill, he said that in addition to trying to stop the leak and clean up the damage, his administration was renewing a push for a major energy bill.
He may have traction for that. By a 47-40 percent margin, more voters think it’s the “perfect time” to focus on energy legislation than think the president is “exploiting the crisis” to pass his policy agenda.
As one would expect, most Democrats (71 percent) think this is the right time to push energy legislation, while most Republicans (67 percent) think Obama is exploiting the situation.
Independents are also more likely to think it’s the perfect time to focus on legislation by a split of 54-39 percent.
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from June 29 to June 30. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The oil spill, however, is far from the most important issue on American voters’ minds. It comes in a fairly distant second (14 percent) after the economy/jobs (32 percent) as the country’s most pressing issue. Similarly, when choosing between just two options, 61 percent of voters say unemployment is the bigger crisis facing the country right now, while 24 percent say the oil spill is worse.
There is rare bipartisan agreement on that perspective, as solid majorities of independents (65 percent), Republicans (64 percent), and Democrats (57 percent) agree high unemployment is the larger crisis.