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In reversal, Californians turn against offshore oil drilling, Times/USC poll finds [Updated]


Half of California’s registered voters oppose new oil drilling off the state’s coast, according to a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll.

That marks a reversal from recent years, when voters increasingly favored new drilling amidst sharp rises in the cost of gasoline.

About 48% of those surveyed opposed new drilling, while 41% supported it, according to the poll, which was conducted May 19-26.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 50% of voters opposed offshore oil drilling. The number is actually 48%.]

The latest figures mark a return to Californians’ traditional position on drilling in recent decades. In 2008 and 2009, as prices rose at the pump, 51% of voters supported new drilling.

Geography played a role in voters’ attitudes toward seeking new sources of oil offshore, with those who live closer to the state’s beaches being more likely to oppose it. About 53% of residents of coastal counties opposed new drilling while 52% of those who live inland supported it.

The polling took place amid national headlines concerning the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

The survey was conducted for The Times and the University of Southern California’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint. The margin of error for the survey in which 1,506 registered voters were polled is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for the overall sample
and slightly larger for smaller breakdowns.

-- Seema Mehta

Times pollTrack poll results all weekend

Saturday: Voter views on the race for governor and U.S. senate

Sunday: Voter views on Arizona's illegal immigration crackdown

Monday: Voter views on legalizing marijuana in California

Results from the poll, as well as graphics, videos and polling questions, will be posted on latimes.com throughout Memorial Day weekend. You can also track the election at The Times' election guide and on The Times' California Politics blog.

Photo credit: Business Wire

Comments () | Archives (41)

The idea that global warming is a myth, the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and oil wells off the coast of California. Now where do those ideas come from? Vote for Meg and let's see what new brilliant ideas will arise. Let's face it, 95% of US Citizens are bought and paid for, so we might as well buy into whatever propagandy the republican machine gives us and give them the Nazi salute they deserve.

So we're against offshore drilling... UNTIL we have to spend an extra $.50 at the gas pump. Then it's drill, baby, drill.

America at its finest.

Unfortunately Oil is the only source for making our cars run. The other technologies are decades away so we have no choice but to drill for oil right now. Question is do we become self reliant and drill off our shores or do we depend on other nations to supply our hunger for driving our cars?

It's now apparent that we lack the ability to cap a well as evidenced by the Gulf spill. Perhaps we do. Maybe BP is reluctant to do so since this well and every other one is a money maker. Who knows?

California coastal drilling is risky since it would put these rigs on or near faults. If a big quake hits, it's bye-bye oil rig and hello oil spill. It's not worth the risk.

Yeah its a little unraveling that a leak can happen but we can be scared about it otherwise we would depend more heavily on foreign oil. WAKE UP!!

yeah, and water is wet.

give it 6 months following the gulf oil fiasco's resolution, whenever that is (and the press having lost interest), and higher gas prices and the public will have forgotten aaaaall about it and want to keep driving their bloated cars/trucks/SUVs without consideration. the people have to be consistantly reminded of the tragedies of the past or else the lessons get overridden by their own selfish desires.

as long as the government panders to the oil corporations (or any corporations for that matter. we need to do away with lobbyists and "corporate contributions" in order to get any sort of priority recognition), delaying any alternative fuel /lawlegislation to the next decade, we will be at the mercy of said corporations. in addition, we as a society need to suck it up and bite the bullet (re: NOT the path of least resistance) for a greater mutually beneficial future.

Oil Oil Oil Oil wait until the Delta up north finally gives up. Then it will be water water water water. Politics= $$$$ no matter which one is picked.

Did the LA Times survey the original respondants? Or are these new respondants?

If these are the original respondants, why the reversal of opinion?
It would be nteresting to know the polictical party affiliation of the respondants.

Then let them not purchase another drop of gasoline.

Certain things like oil that are buried should remain buried. If we had stayed on track with electric vehicles from back in the eighties, we would't be needing so much oil today and the tragedy in the Gulf probably never would have happened. I'm still driving my electric S-10 pickup which only costs me about 50 cents for a charge that takes me about 65 miles. And that's on eighties technology. Just imagine where we'd be today after 20 years of reaserch and development if electric vehicles had gone mainstream.

When bread is $8.00 a loaf they might change their minds!!

And if this disaster in Louisiana had NOT occurred? Voters were in favor of it before. Now that a figurative house falls on them, oh well, hmmm I guess it's time to think. Is this what it takes to get through to people?

I guess people would be still saying "drill baby drill'. BTW, where are all those people and what happened to their bumper stickers? Just for kicks, take a poll 5 years from now and test short memories. The clean up will still be going on, but rest assured, they'll be something "new" we will all be worrying about and the scared people now will be back to saying we need to drill....just not near them. Idiots all.

I'd like to see a poll on what Californians would accept that would bring jobs back to this state. Real jobs. Not phony green jobs that get these flowery write-ups but don't really exist and/or pay much.

I wonder if the same people who oppose the drilling also oppose the millions of dollars in taxes that California counties collect from the drilling.


This poll doesn't mean much. In the wake of the Louisiana spill, naturally people's minds will temporarily change. Ask them again in 6 months when gas prices are back up over $4.00 and I assure you that you will see a dramatic change once again; only that time, it will be the other way.

This another BIG LIE ! The liberal media want people to believe this LIE, most people in California want Safe off shore drilling! The crazy Liberals are the ones trying to make people believe most of us don't want this when we do. While we are looking for new and better ways of energy we need oil and we have more here in America than the rest of the world. We can not keep relying on other Nations who hate us for oil. We need to drill for oil safely on land and off shore !!!

if the margin of error is 2.6% and there is only 1% difference between coastal and inland voter opinion, then geography does NOT play a roll. Basically, we don't know, but the data suggests there is no difference. We californians still want it if only 48% don't want offshore drilling.

We would be next. There WILL be more spills. ENOUGH! Time for natural renewable energy technologies.

Should have asked them if they would mind $7.00 gas or if they are willing to give up their cars to support a ban on offshore drilling? I bet you would have gotten a different result.

I am against oil drilling even though I know it would be very good for the U.S. not to rely on oil from middle east who hate us. But not at the expense of our sealife who are so very precious.

what did you expect with the obama hussein administration taking charge noone wants the same thing here as in the gulf

I wonder if people feel the same way when they hear about plane crashes or car crashes or dogs attacking people. I'm guessing no.

I get the knee jerk reaction to pull back after a tragic accident, but it's just that - an accident.

Look at our energy supply and what happened after the 3 mile island incident or Chernobyl. We need to stop acting emotionally to these things and start acting more clear headed.

Well, it's about time. I guess if we had all lived in Santa Barbara in 1969, the anti-drilling crowd would be closer to 100%.

"Half of California’s registered voters oppose new oil drilling off the state’s coast... ". Until the global petroleum supply falls short of demand.

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