POLL: Energy Policy has Support But Jobs and Cost are Crucial

There also are differences in "strong" support for these items. A vast 79 percent strongly favor solar and wind power, compared with 48 percent for oil and gas drilling, 36 percent for nuclear plants and 33 percent for building more fossil-fuel power stations. Also, "strong" support for mandated conservation by consumers drops off to 56 percent, albeit still a majority.

PARTISAN – As in so many issues on the political plate, partisanship is a sharp divider. Republicans are 27 points more apt than Democrats to support more oil and gas drilling, 20 points more apt to support building more nuclear plants, 14 points more apt to back more coal mining. (The NIMBY effect, though, is essentially the same in both parties – about a 15-point drop in support for nuclear plants if they're within 50 miles.)

Democrats, for their part, are 25 points more apt to favor mandatory conservation by business and individuals and 11 to 18 points more likely to support developing electric cars, increasing fuel-efficiency standards and the cash-for-clunkers program.

Differences on Energy Policy for Democrats and Republicans

However, there's little difference between the parties in views on building more fossil fuel plants – supported by 53 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans alike, while "strongly" supported by about a third in each group.

There are even sharper partisan and ideological divisions on support for energy reform overall – 78 percent among Democrats, 56 percent among independents, but just 33 percent among Republicans. Similarly, it's 76 percent among liberals, 63 percent among moderates, 40 percent among conservatives.

There are differences beyond the strictly political: Support for energy policy changes overall is lowest in the West (47 percent) and highest in the East (63 percent); lowest among seniors (42 percent) while highest among young adults (73 percent in this core Obama support group); and 74 percent among nonwhites vs. 52 percent among whites. And among individual items, nuclear power gets far more support from men, 64 percent, than from women, 40 percent.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 13-17, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

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