Support for the Keystone XL pipeline reached a two-year high in the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, with the public overwhelmingly saying it would create jobs, while dividing on its potential environmental impact.
Two-thirds favor government approval of the 1,700-mile, $5.4 billion pipeline to move oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, up 6 points from 2012, vs. two in 10 opposed. Eighty-five percent think it would create jobs, with 62 percent feeling that way strongly – up 11 percentage points.
Views that the pipeline would create a significant number of jobs far outstrip concerns that it poses a sizable environmental risk – an opinion nonetheless held by 47 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Notably, among those who see a risk, 45 percent support the pipeline anyway, apparently persuaded by the perceived jobs benefit.
Strong belief that the pipeline will create jobs is up in particular, by 13 to 20 points, among men, political independents, nonwhites and Americans living in the Midwest and the South, regions through which the pipeline would pass.
Opinions about Keystone’s potential effects factor into support for it: Among those who strongly feel that it will create more jobs, 83 percent think it should be approved. Support plummets to 27 percent among those who feel strongly that it poses risks to the environment. (It’s far higher, 67 percent, among those who see an environmental risk, but don’t feel strongly about it.)
A State Department report in January concluded that oil would be produced and transported to the market regardless of Keystone, contrary to suggestions that it would add to the release of greenhouse gases. In addition to jobs, supporters have argued that the pipeline would reduce dependence on oil from less reliable or less friendly sources.
GROUPS – Partisan and ideological divisions are at play, with support for approving the pipeline peaking among Republicans at 82 percent, vs. 65 percent among independents and 51 percent of Democrats. Ideological patterns are similar, with support ranging from 75 percent of conservatives to 46 percent of liberals. Similarly, expectations that it would create jobs are higher among Republicans and conservatives, while Democrats and liberals are more likely to see significant environmental risks.
Regionally, the pipeline is supported by 71 percent in the Midwest and the South alike, vs. 60 and 56 percent, respectively, in the Northeast and West. Perceptions that it would create jobs peak among Southerners, while fewer in the Midwest and South see environmental risks.
Among other groups, the pipeline gets more support from suburban and rural Americans than from urbanites, from older compared with younger adults and from men vs. women.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Feb. 27-March 2, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.