Voters Still Support Off-Shore Oil Drilling, But Want Investigation Of BP Spill

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UTICA, N.Y. — The British Petroleum (BP) oil spill off the Atlantic Coast has not dissuaded a majority of likely voters from supporting the Obama Administration’s plans to allow for expansion of off-shore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, according to a recent Zogby Interactive poll. However, the same size majority also agrees with the Obama decision to suspend those plans pending an investigation of conditions that led to the current spill.

Agreement with the Obama decision to expand off-shore drilling stands at 63%, with 35% agreeing strongly and 27% somewhat agreeing. Agreement to suspend those plans pending an inquiry on the spill is 62% overall, with 44% agreeing strongly and 18% somewhat agreeing.

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Democratic and Republican voters take very different positions on these questions. A majority of Democrats (54%) disagree with the Obama plan to expand off-shore drilling, and an even larger share of Republicans (64%) do not agree with Obama’s decision to suspend that expansion pending an investigation of the BP spill.

These results come from an April 30-May 3, 2010 Zogby Interactive poll of 3,183 likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points.  Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Other poll findings include:

  • 34% give positive ratings to the government response to the spill, with 8% calling it excellent and 26% good. Thirty-three percent rate government response as poor, and 24% as fair.
  • BP fairs worse with likely voters, as just 19% give the company high marks of excellent (3%) or good (15%) for its response to the spill, and 46% give BP a poor rating and 22% a fair.
  • The spill could a have negative impact on the company’s image and its sales, as 17% say they are less likely to buy gasoline from a BP station and 32% do not believe it is an environmentally-friendly company. On the positive side for BP, 52% say the spill would not have an impact on buying gas from its stations (26% never buy gas from BP).  Also, 29% still believe BP is environmentally-friendly. The largest percentage (39%) was not sure about BP’s environmental friendliness.
  • BP’s response is viewed more favorably than that of Exxon following the Valdez spill, with 34% saying BP has done better than Exxon and 8% saying it has done worse.  The rest rated the two companies’ responses as about the same (36%) or are not sure (23%).
  • When asked which concern was greatest about the BP spill, 48% chose the impact on the shoreline, 25% a possible rise in gas and oil prices and 22% the impact on the shrimp and oyster industry.

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