After weeks of the best propaganda that anti-drilling forces could muster from the combination of a devastating oil spill and sensationalist and even hysteria reporting from sympathetic media, polling shows that a clear majority of Americans continue to support offshore oil drilling:
55% say they support drilling to 30% opposed and 15% without an opinion. Republicans continue to overwhelmingly favor it (76/11), as do independents (61/25). Democrats are opposed by a 34/48 margin.
Quite simply, because this is one of those rare areas where simple common sense trumps the hysteria. Those demanding an end to offshore oil drilling have no alternatives to offer on how to fuel people’s cars today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future. Alternative energy ideas like hydrogen fuel cells are still years away from being practical for widespread implementation, and their underlying technological viability and efficiency (e.g. it requires energy from some other source to separate hydrogen from water in the first place) remains unclear at best.
To the degree that Democrats are prone to oppose drilling, it seems an indulgence in partisan purism rather than practical policy-making. President Obama conceded as much when, to the dismay of many in his party, he acquiesced to expanded offshore drilling that many environmentalists are now seeking to use the spill in the Gulf to undo. Environmentalists have for decades blocked the construction of thousands of components of key energy infrastructure (power plants, refineries, power lines) without feeling the slightest obligation to articulate practical alternatives. Why start now, when the Gulf oil spill offers the hope of winning the political game without having to do all that hard “governing” stuff? Fortunately, the American public ain’t buying so far.
By the way, those who believe in the conspiracy theory about the oil spill are only a tiny minority:
Few voters buy into Rush Limbaugh’s conspiracy theory that environmentalists may have been responsible for the spill in an effort to build support for their agenda. Just 9% of voters say they think environmentalists caused the spill while 22% are unsure and 69% don’t believe they had anything to do with it. Even among GOP voters only 13% are buying into the ‘the environmentalists’ did it frame of mind.
The proportion of Republicans who believe in this conspiracy theory is thus far less than the number of Democrats who believed that 9/11 was an inside job done by massive numbers of explosives planted weeks in advance by thousands of agents of the Bush administration without any witnesses seeing it. But far be it from me to get in the way of the longstanding “Republicans are stupid” meme. 😉