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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Does the Public Support ANWR Oil Exploration?

In the wake of the recent narrow Senate vote in favor opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration, it is worth asking whether public opinion now supports the approach adopted by the Senate.
In a word: no. Very recent data from Gallup (March 7-10) show that the public still opposes such exploration in ANWR by 53-42, rising to 58-37 among political independents. Moreover, the intensity of feeling is heavily on the opposition side. Just 19 percent say that oil drilling should proceed and that they’ll be upset if it does not. But 45 percent–a gap in intensity of 26 points–say that oil drilling should not proceed and that they’ll be upset if it does. And among independents that intensity gap is even larger: 48 percent to 14 percent, for a gap of 34 points.
We shall see if the GOP’s ability to push the ANWR oil exploration provision through the Senate winds up as a pyrrhic victory. By these data, it just might.