UT poll: Americans’ energy concerns focused on jobs

By Laylan Copelin

Americans are concerned about jobs and the money they are spending on energy, according to a University of Texas poll of consumer and voter attitudes about energy.

The national poll results are filtering into this year’s political dialogue as significant majorities support an “all of the above” approach to developing domestic energy sources, but particularly natural gas and renewables.

“We see a significant trend of increased pricing concerns and more support for domestic energy production across the board in this survey,” said Wayne Hoyer, a co-director of the poll and chairman of UT’s McCombs School of Business marketing department.

Hoyer cited higher gasoline prices, the shaky economy, a focus on job creation, the political campaigns, international events such as the standoff with Iran and the controversy surrounding the Keystone pipeline proposal as contributing to shifts in the public’s attitudes since the last poll six months ago.

“All these factors are influencing consumer sentiment,” Hoyer said. “The biggest concern is job creation.”

The poll surveyed 2,371 adult respondents online between March 5 and March 16. Factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted to reflect the national population. It was also adjusted for some respondents’ propensity to answer online surveys. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents say energy is important to them as an issue. They generally say they would support candidates whose policies would increase domestic energy production.

Developing more natural gas is supported by 61 percent of the respondents, the highest in the poll, while 59 percent would favor candidates who want to provide additional financial incentives to develop renewable energy.

Hoyer said money is a driver in people’s attitudes about energy. He speculated that natural gas support is because “people see that as one of the cheaper forms of energy.”

Likewise, 72 percent of the respondents said saving money with cheaper fuels or efficiency gains is what drives the “average American” to be concerned about the environment. Ethical or social motivations trail far behind the financial motivation.

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