Mar 30, 2022 - Energy & Environment

The public pulse on energy

Data: Gallup; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Several new polls show widespread concern about energy costs — and gasoline in particular — as the midterm elections draw closer.

What's new: Wednesday morning Gallup reported that U.S. worries about energy cost and availability spiked to the highest levels in a decade.

  • The poll conducted March 1-18 showed that 47% of U.S. adults surveyed worry "a great deal," which is 10% higher than the same stretch last year.
  • Another 30% worry a "fair amount." The survey period coincided with record pump prices (though not when you adjust for inflation).

Catch up fast: Other U.S. polls in recent days also show concern.

  • Associated Press polling released Friday found that 68% are very concerned about gas prices' effect on household finances.
  • NBC News polling released Sunday found 83% are very or somewhat concerned that the price of goods and services will rise. (However, it also showed widespread support for President Biden's ban on Russian petroleum imports.)

What we're watching: The trajectory of gas prices in coming months, which are tethered to crude prices that are tough to predict even in normal times.

  • Elevated prices, especially if they persist into the fall, could worsen Democrats' midterm peril, even though presidents have very limited sway over pump costs.

The intrigue: There are also partisan splits in views about energy costs and what's driving them.

  • In Gallup's poll, 66% of Republicans worry "a great deal" about energy availability and affordability, up from 46% a year ago. Concern among independents was at 48%, compared to 35% in March 2021. But among Democrats, it's at 28% compared to 32% in March 2021, a difference within the poll's margin of error.
  • AP asked whether rising gas prices stem more from factors within our outside of Biden's control.
  • 79% of Republicans say Biden's policies are more to blame, while 88% of Democrats say factors outside his control are more responsible.
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