CONGRESS

Poll Shows Public Supports Obama on Gas Prices

Gas prices are posted at the Citgo gas station Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 in Philadelphia. The price of gasoline, which is made from crude oil, has soared as oil prices rise. The national average jumped by nearly 12 cents per gallon in a week, with state averages above $4 per gallon in California, Alaska and Hawaii. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)    
National Journal
Matthew Cooper
March 12, 2012, 5:30 p.m.

More Amer­ic­ans trust Pres­id­ent Obama than con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans to make the right de­cisions to bring down the price of gas­ol­ine, ac­cord­ing to a new poll, al­though neither side com­mands a ma­jor­ity.

What’s more, as prices con­tin­ue to rise and the specter of $5-per-gal­lon gas for the sum­mer driv­ing sea­son looms over the polit­ic­al land­scape, the latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll shows the pub­lic slightly more sup­port­ive of the en­ergy pri­or­it­ies of the Demo­crats and the pres­id­ent than those of the GOP.

Forty-four per­cent of re­spond­ents trust Obama more “to make the right de­cisions to help bring down the price of gas­ol­ine,” versus 32 per­cent for Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress, ac­cord­ing to the poll. Only 1 per­cent said both; 16 per­cent said neither and 7 per­cent didn’t know or re­fused to an­swer.

Amer­ic­ans put some­what more stock in the Demo­crats’ policy of con­ser­va­tion and de­vel­op­ment of al­tern­at­ive en­ergy sources, such as wind and sol­ar power, than they do in the Re­pub­lic­ans’ em­phas­is on great­er do­mest­ic pro­duc­tion of oil and gas. Fifty per­cent of re­spond­ents said that the Demo­crat­ic ap­proach “would do more to lower fuel prices,” while 42 per­cent went with the GOP ap­proach.

It’s worth not­ing that earli­er this winter the Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll found a sub­stan­tial ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans fa­vor­ing con­struc­tion of the Key­stone XL pipeline, which has be­come a ral­ly­ing cry for con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans.

This new­est sur­vey plumbed Amer­ic­ans’ views on what is caus­ing the spike in gas­ol­ine prices. When asked what the main reas­on be­hind the price in­crease was, some 38 per­cent laid the blame on “the ma­nip­u­la­tion of prices by large en­ergy com­pan­ies.” Twenty-eight per­cent cited “ten­sion in the Middle East, par­tic­u­larly over Ir­an and nuc­le­ar weapons.” Well down the list were “the policies of Pres­id­ent Obama” (14 per­cent) and “the policies of con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans” (5 per­cent).

On an­oth­er con­ten­tious is­sue in Con­gress””ju­di­cial va­can­cies””the poll showed a plur­al­ity of Amer­ic­ans be­lieves that the back­log is due to Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans “un­reas­on­ably delay­ing the con­firm­a­tion pro­cess.” Some 44 per­cent of re­spond­ents said that was the cause for the hol­dup, while 36 per­cent said that Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans were “just do­ing their con­sti­tu­tion­al duty.” A full 17 per­cent of adults re­spond­ing to the sur­vey didn’t know or re­fused to an­swer and 4 per­cent said they haven’t heard or read about the delays. On Monday, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., said he would take full ad­vant­age of his powers to try to break the lo­g­jam of ju­di­cial nom­in­a­tions.

As the U.S. Postal Ser­vice con­tin­ues to hem­or­rhage money, a sig­ni­fic­ant ma­jor­ity of sur­vey re­spond­ents said that they were will­ing to forgo Sat­urday mail de­liv­ery in or­der to save money. But the pub­lic ap­pears to be much more wary of pay­ing more for a post­age stamp.

Con­gress is wrest­ling with the fal­lout from the Postal Ser­vice’s budget short­falls. The USPS, which is sup­posed to op­er­ate without tax­pay­er dol­lars, has been bor­row­ing heav­ily from the Treas­ury and will bump up against its $15 bil­lion cap this year. Mem­bers of Con­gress were out­raged earli­er this year when the post­mas­ter gen­er­al an­nounced a cost-sav­ing plan that in­volved everything from clos­ing 223 mail-sort­ing fa­cil­it­ies to end­ing Sat­urday de­liv­ery.

The poll showed a sol­id 63 per­cent of re­spond­ents in fa­vor of end­ing Sat­urday mail de­liv­ery “as a way for the Postal Ser­vice to save money.” Thirty-two per­cent op­posed chan­ging the his­tor­ic de­liv­ery sched­ule.

A ma­jor­ity who re­spon­ded to the poll were un­will­ing to shell out more for a stamp or oth­er post­age fees in or­der to guar­an­tee the con­tinu­ation of Sat­urday de­liv­ery. Some 42 per­cent were will­ing to pay more, but 56 per­cent were not.
Con­gress can’t dir­ectly stop the post­mas­ter gen­er­al from im­ple­ment­ing his re­com­mend­a­tions, but the mere threat of passing meas­ures that could delay or thwart the pro­posed cuts has made this a hot top­ic on the Hill, where mem­bers of both parties have de­cried the pro­posed cuts. The protests have been es­pe­cially loud from rep­res­ent­at­ives of rur­al areas, whose con­stitu­ents would have to travel longer dis­tances for postal ser­vices if the cut­backs are im­ple­men­ted.

The poll showed some in­ter­est­ing di­vides among the re­spond­ents on the Postal Ser­vice is­sue. Fifty per­cent of black non-His­pan­ics sup­por­ted the end of Sat­urday de­liv­ery to save money, while 47 per­cent op­posed the idea. Black non-His­pan­ics were also will­ing to sup­port a hike in postal rates to pre­serve Sat­urday de­liv­ery. Sup­port for end­ing Sat­urday de­liv­ery to save money was slightly weak­er in the Mid­w­est and among those earn­ing less than $50,000 an­nu­ally. White col­lege gradu­ates were most sup­port­ive of end­ing Sat­urday de­liv­ery, with nearly 80 per­cent back­ing such a move.

The United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll was con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, which sur­veyed 1,005 adults by land­line and cel­lu­lar phone March 8-11. The poll has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.6 per­cent­age points.

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