WASHINGTON – Americans are worried about fast-rising gasoline prices (search) and want President Bush and Congress to make that their top domestic priority, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.
With gas prices soaring toward $4 a gallon and fuel supply lines crippled by Hurricane Katrina (search), 24 percent of those polled listed fuel prices as their chief concern, second only to the war in Iraq.
"The president's got to step up to the plate" on the fuel issue, said carpenter Barry Whittington, who lives near Deale, Md., and voted for Bush. "This is killing me."
About one-fourth of adults younger than 65 named gas prices as the top priority, while 14 percent of senior citizens felt that way. Residents of several states in the oil-rich region of the country, such as Texas and Oklahoma, were more likely than people in other regions to name gas prices as the top priority. The overall number of people who named gas prices as the top priority had increased by the final day of polling Wednesday.
Twenty-nine percent of Americans named the Iraq situation as the top priority for the nation's political leaders. Other issues of concern were the economy and jobs, and terrorism.
The war in Iraq was the public's top priority in January, followed by the economy and jobs. The price of gas, still comfortably under $2 a gallon at the beginning of the year, was not one of the choices in that survey about government priorities.
Gas prices rose by more than 50 cents a gallon Wednesday in Ohio, 40 cents in Georgia and 30 cents in Maine after Hurricane Katrina knocked out refineries (search) and pipeline links along the Gulf Coast (search). Some cities reported long lines at gas stations.
The situation has echoes of the 1970s — with high gasoline prices and supply problems.
President Bush moved Wednesday to release oil from the government's emergency stockpile and temporarily ease pollution standards on gasoline and diesel fuel to increase the supply. "We're going to have a temporary disruption of gasoline," Bush said Thursday. "Don't buy gas if you don't need it."
The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Aug. 29-31 by Ipsos, an international polling firm, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.