As gasoline prices move well past $4 per gallon, Americans seem stunned — but also ready to take action — according to the latest FOX News poll.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans (62 percent) say they expect — within the next six months — to wait in long gas lines to fill up their cars; moreover, almost half (48 percent) claim to have changed their summer travel plans because of prices at the pump.
The national poll was conducted for the FOX News special "America’s Future: Do We Have Enough Energy?" airing on FOX News Channel on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET and on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET.
After taking the body blows of higher energy prices, Americans seem more willing than ever to fight back with bold initiatives. For example, just over three-quarters (76 percent) support immediately increasing oil drilling in the United States — a position recently espoused by presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. More than seven in 10 Democrats (71 percent) also hold this view.
A slim majority (53 percent) supports drilling in a small area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge — up 5 percentage points since March 2006. Support also has risen over that same period for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico — 77 percent today, up from 68 percent.
And nuclear power — another McCain energy plank — seems to be enjoying a resurgence of popularity as well. By a 51 percent to 41 percent margin, Americans favor building more nuclear power plants than the 100 or so that already exist — a 4-point increase in support over the last two-plus years.
In April 2002 a majority of Americans (52 percent) opposed building additional nuclear plants. Today a 53 percent majority thinks nuclear power is a safe source of energy — a view that would have seemed far-fetched just a few years ago.
Despite the support for nuclear power, there is some residual "not in my backyard" sentiment on the issue. For example, a solid majority (55 percent) does not want to live within 20 miles of a nuclear plant and 67 percent feel their neighbors would feel that way as well.
Nevertheless, when reminded that there have been no incidents at U.S. nuclear plants in over 30 years and that France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, a majority (53 percent) are made more likely to support the nuclear energy option.
Americans looked negatively on energy policy options that include an increased federal gasoline tax (83 percent opposed) and the rationing of gasoline and oil (63 percent opposed). Americans also are evenly divided on whether environmental standards should be relaxed (46 percent support relaxation; 46 percent oppose it).
While a 59 percent majority feels Americans are "extremely addicted" to oil, in relative terms, they see a higher level of addiction to cell phones (72 percent "extremely addicted") and cars (65 percent "extremely addicted"). Television (58 percent "extremely addicted") comes in at about the same level of addiction as oil.
The national telephone poll was conducted for FOX News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from June 17 to June 18. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Ernie Paicopolos is a principal at Opinion Dynamics Corp.