Americans are not just dissatisfied with the cost of gasoline, a sizable number are downright angry about it. And they might get madder still: Many are cutting back elsewhere to keep paying at the pump, and if prices hit $3 per gallon long-term, more than six in 10 say they'll have to reduce their driving.
The public in some senses is being quite resilient in the face of $2.61 gas, a nominal high for the national average. Relatively few -- 22 percent -- are driving less now because of the cost of gas, and about as few say they'll cut back on driving because of gas prices in the next few months.
Instead three-quarters of Americans say that to afford gas they're either spending less on other things (45 percent), saving less (21 percent) or increasing debt (10 percent). And while just over half say gas prices are causing them financial hardship, that's down from 64 percent in the spring -- an indication that many people are accommodating themselves to the situation.
That said, both apprehension and annoyance are running high. Eight in 10 are worried that gas prices could seriously damage the economy, including 42 percent who are very worried about it. Ninety-four percent are dissatisfied with the price of gas, and 44 percent are more than just annoyed -- they're angry about it.
ANGER -- The level of anger varies among groups. It's higher among Democrats (50 percent) than it is among Republicans (37 percent) Women are more likely than men to be angry (48 percent vs. 39 percent of men). And anger about pump prices peaks in the East, at 52 percent; it's lowest in the West, at 40 percent, even though the West consistently has the highest average gas prices in the nation.
Naturally, those who say gas prices are causing them serious financial hardship -- about a quarter of the public -- are by far the most likely to be angry: Sixty-eight percent are, compared with fewer than three in 10 of those who aren't facing hardship.
|Angry about price of gas|
|Income under $100,000||46|
DEALING -- But for now, most Americans are finding a way to pay. As noted, 45 percent say they're spending less on other things to free up more cash for gas, and about one in five are saving less. Another one in 10 says they've had to borrow more money on a credit card or use other borrowing.
Younger Americans and the less well-off are the most likely to say they're shifting spending on other items to offset the rising cost. Fifty-five percent of those under age 30 are spending less elsewhere, as are 52 percent of those in households earning less than $50,000. In contrast, just three in 10 of those in six-figure earning households have had to cut back spending. Instead, they're more likely to be saving less.
DRIVING LESS? -- Moreover, as noted, relatively few are cutting back on their driving. Overall, about a third say they're driving less now than they did a year ago, and just about two in 10 say that's because of the price of gasoline. Similarly, 23 percent of drivers say they'll drive less over the next few months because of the cost of gas.