Poll: Gulf Coast Residents Oppose Drilling Moratorium

ABC News Polls finds 72% of gulf residents disapprove of government's response.

ByABC News
July 14, 2010, 2:26 PM

July 14, 2010 -- Gulf Coast residents reported serious economic, environmental and emotional fallout from the BP oil spill, with vast majorities concerned about long-term negative effects on the area's tourism, seafood safety and more.

An ABC News-Washington Post poll found that three-quarters of residents in the most affected counties along the Gulf said the spill has hurt their area's economy, including 55 percent who said it has had a strongly negative impact. One in four reported personal financial damage.

And there were other tolls: One in three personally has been depressed in the past few days because of the spill. Forty percent were angry about it; many others, upset if not angry.

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Nonetheless, given their region's reliance on the oil industry, most residents of the affected counties weren't turning their backs on offshore drilling. By 60-38 percent, they opposed the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on drilling (it got far more support nationally); and more, three-quarters, said drilling should resume at its existing level, or be expanded, in the future.

This poll was based on results among respondents nationally and from an extra sample of randomly selected residents of the 22 most affected counties along the Gulf, in an arc from Cameron Parish, La., east to Gulf County, Fla.

There was broad criticism of the federal government's spill response in the affected counties (72 percent rated it negatively), and even steeper criticism of BP (82 percent said it has done a bad job; this poll was completed before the new cap was in place). In sharp contrast, more than six in 10 residents rated their local and state governments' responses positively.Obama himself was unpopular in the area: 24 percent approved of his response to the spill (vs. 41 percent nationally) and 35 percent approved of his job performance overall, vs. 50 percent of all Americans. Some of that related to basic partisanship. Residents in the affected counties lean more toward the Republican Party than do all Americans. But even among those who lean toward the Democratic Party, Obama's spill response was seen more negatively in the affected counties than in the rest of the country overall.