Our guest blogger is Josh Nelson, publisher of EnviroKnow.com.
Seizing on a recent NBC/WSJ poll (PDF) showing 60% of Americans continue to support offshore drilling, several journalists and pundits have implied that support for offshore drilling has not declined sharply in recent weeks. This is absolutely false.
Bill Schneider, National Journal:
Nor has the oil spill caused public support for offshore drilling to collapse.
Louise Radnofsky and Jean Spencer, The Wall Street Journal:
Public support for expanding the offshore hunt for energy is sturdy.
Jeffrey Birnbaum, The Washington Times:
Remarkably — at least so far — Americans are not running away from the need to find oil in the sea. According to recent polls, roughly two-thirds of those surveyed believe that offshore oil exploration is still a good idea. And that number has remained relatively steady even after weeks of massive leakage in the Gulf and the creation of an oil slick the size of Maryland.
Others, such as Politico’s Dianna Heitz, have sought to downplay the massive drop in support:
While the level of support has fallen, the drop-off has not been as sharp as some had expected, a finding attributed by experts to Americans’ overall concern about U.S. energy security.
Six major national polls released in recent weeks show that, in fact, support for offshore drilling has fallen off considerably in the wake of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
And it isn’t just national polls that have shown a major decrease in support for offshore drilling. Several recent statewide polls have had similar findings:
— A Greensboro News-Record survey found that support dropped 14% in North Carolina between April 2010 and May 2010.
— A Rasmussen survey found that support dropped 11% in Florida between June 2008 and May 2010.
— A Public Policy Polling survey found that support dropped 14% (PDF) in North Carolina between April 2010 and May 2010.
— A Rasmussen survey found that support dropped 10% in California between April 2010 and May 2010.
— A Rasmussen survey found that support dropped 12% in Texas between April 2010 and May 2010.
The decline in support for offshore drilling is unequivocal. Pundits and journalists who claim otherwise should be held to account.
Following up with Bill Schneider, I asked if he could explain the discrepancy between his claim that support has not collapsed and six recent polls indicating otherwise. Here is a transcript of the exchange:
Josh Nelson: Can you explain the discrepancy between your claim and the data from six recent national polls?
Bill Schneider: Public support for increased drilling has definitely dropped. But it has not (yet) collapsed.
Josh Nelson: If a 17% drop in support does not indicate a collapse, can you tell me how large the decline would have to be for you to characterize it as such?
Bill Schneider: Below a majority. Given the news, I think it could happen very soon. It’s already happened among Democrats.