Oil Spill Turns the Tide
The BP spill has done more than pour millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf; its impact has spilled over into public sentiment, turning Californians against offshore drilling. The USC College/L.A. Times Poll finds that since 2009 there has been a 10-point shift, with a majority now opposing offshore oil. Click for video.
The BP spill has done more than just pour millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico; its impact has spilled over into public sentiment, turning Californians against offshore drilling. According to the recent USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll, in the last year there has been a 10-point shift in attitudes toward offshore oil, with a majority of California voters now opposing it.
Californians, shocked by images of the massive oil spill in the Gulf, have turned against the idea of new offshore drilling along their coast.
“It seems sort of obvious, but the real world has a much greater impact on voter opinion than anything that happens on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress or the state legislature,” says Dan Schnur of the USC College. “When voters were paying $4 a gallon for gasoline a couple years ago, offshore drilling looked like a pretty interesting thing to them. Now that they’re watching footage from the Gulf, it looks a little bit less exciting. The political debate hasn’t changed that much, but the real-world impact has.”
The poll found that 48 percent of California’s registered voters oppose new offshore drilling in the state, while 41 percent favor it. Those figures represent a 10-point turnaround from 2009, when California voters, stung by rising gasoline prices, began to soften their decades-old opposition to new drilling.
“The 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill drove public opinion on this issue for more than 30 years,” Schnur notes. “What we’re seeing now is a return to the voters’ longtime reluctance on this issue.”
Along party lines, 64 percent of registered Democrats oppose new drilling offshore, as do 25 percent of registered Republicans (67 percent of registered Republicans still support offshore drilling). Among registered voters who declined to state a party affiliation, 49 percent oppose offshore drilling and 40 percent favor it.
Attitudes toward offshore drilling also varied greatly by geography: 74 percent of California voters living in coastal areas oppose new offshore drilling, but only 26 percent of inland voters are in opposition.
In addition, attitudes were divided according to gender: 54 percent of female California voters now oppose new drilling, while 53 percent of male voters support it.
There was a near-uniformity of opinion along ethnic lines: Latinos, whites, blacks and Asians oppose expanded offshore drilling by 48, 49, 49 and 50 percent, respectively.
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