WASHINGTON, August 20, 2004 - One of the most comprehensive studies of American attitudes toward energy independence and the Middle East finds that energy policy will be a pivotal issue in the 2004 presidential campaign. American voters are genuinely troubled by the rising price of gasoline and America's continued reliance on foreign oil.
The key findings of the poll indicate that:
Since September 11th, Americans have become increasingly aware of the link between oil, politics, and terrorism, and they now fear that buying oil from the Middle East means financing terrorism. For this reason, Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. In fact, by an almost 3:1 margin Americans believe that "reducing our reliance on foreign oil and gas" was more important to them than "cheaper prices for oil and gas."
These facts lead Americans to question close U.S. ties to Saudi Arabia. A soaring 60% of Americans have an "unfavorable" image of Saudi Arabia. Moreover, 57% of Americans say their opinion of Saudi Arabia has "worsened" since 9/11.
The majority of Americans recognize the commonly
held belief that Saudi Arabia holds the world's largest reserves of oil - a fact
that creates anxiety given the American public's awareness of Saudi ties to
terror. The direct link between oil money and al-Qaeda has led Americans to
identify Saudi Arabia as the greatest backer of terror in the world.
Even Iran, an avowed enemy of the United States, is ranked second to Saudi
Arabia as a source of global terrorism.
The poll's findings mean that the mission of any new energy policy must be to significantly reduce American dependence on Saudi Arabian oil and to increase America's energy self-sufficiency.
The existing perceptions of Saudi Arabia have a significant impact on public attitudes towards American energy policy:
According to Dr. Mey Wurmser, Director of the
Center for Middle East Policy at Hudson Institute, energy issues will clearly
play a crucial role in the 2004 presidential elections. Americans are asking the
candidates to adopt a new energy policy that will reduce the nation's reliance
on Saudi oil, lower the rising price of gasoline, and eliminate the connection
between foreign oil and terrorism. A failure to address these issues and break
with past U.S. policies could prove detrimental to the candidates' campaigns."
Wurmser went on to add that "Americans want American energy. They refuse to accept our reliance on foreign sources of oil, especially when that oil is coming primarily from hostile countries in the Middle East."
Pollster Dr. Frank Luntz added, "John Kerry fired
the first campaign attack on U.S. dependence on Saudi Arabian oil - and it was
clearly a hit with the public. The Bush campaign risks falling behind if they
appear silent on this very emotional issue. The political party that
incorporates 'energy self-sufficiency' into its energy plan may seize an
electoral advantage in this polarized election year. With oil prices approaching
$50 a barrel, 'energy self-sufficiency' could become the key political buzz
words of the next eight weeks."
This survey was released jointly by the Hudson Institute and the Luntz Research Companies. The survey consisted of telephone interviews with 800 likely voters and was conducted between August 13-15, 2004. The survey has a margin of error of 3.5%
KEY POLL FINDINGS:
1) How concerned are you personally with the
recent rise in oil and gas prices?
27% Extremely concerned
30% Very concerned
30% Somewhat concerned
9% Only a little concerned
5% Not concerned at all
0% Don't know/refused
2) And if you had to choose, which of the
following is most responsible for the recent increase in the cost of oil and
55% Saudi Arabia, OPEC, and other oil and gas producing countries
33% Oil and gas companies
12% Don't know/refused
3) And which of the following goals is most
important to you? You have to choose.
71% Reducing our reliance on foreign oil and gas
26% Cheaper prices for oil and gas
4% Don't know/refused
4) Since September 11th, has your opinion of Saudi
2% Improved a lot
10% Improved a little
27% No change
28% Worsened a little
29% Worsened a lot
6% Don't know/refused
5) 15 of the 19 September 11th highjackers were of
Saudi Origin (favorability)
3% Much more favorable
2% Somewhat more favorable
23% Somewhat less favorable
27% No impact
5% Don't know/refused
6) And if I were to tell you that Saudi Arabia is
the #1 holder of oil reserves among OPEC nations, and the largest single
supplier of oil to the United States, would that make you want to...
50% Pursue new sources of energy right here in America
32% More actively pursue supplies from other oil producing nations and regions such as Canada, Mexico and Western Africa
7% No impact
6% Pursue a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia
6% Don't know/refused
7) Do you think that the Saudis, as the top OPEC
producer, are encouraging or discouraging higher oil prices?
20% Don't know/refused
8) Based on what I just read you, and given that
hybrid cars cost more than the same car with hybrid technology, would you be
willing to pay 10% more for a hybrid model?
13% Possibly not
15% Definitely not
7% Don't know/refused
9) Would you be... toward president George W. Bush
if you learned that his energy plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil
included giving a tax incentive to car manufacturers who build hybrid vehicles
in the United States?
24% Much more favorable
35% Somewhat more favorable
4% Somewhat less favorable
9% Much less favorable
22% No impact
7% Don't know/ refused
10) Reducing our dependence on foreign oil must be
a top priority for the next administration.
50% Strongly agree
33% Somewhat agree
8% Somewhat disagree
7% Strongly disagree
3% Don't know/refused
11) When it comes to energy, we need an America
that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation - not the Saudi royal
74% Strongly agree
17% Somewhat agree
2% Somewhat disagree
3% Strongly disagree
5% Don't know/refused
... Payvand News - 8/22/04 ... --