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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)

Should have been drilling on SOLID EARTH all these years. No wonder the oil rich nations shake their heads in disbelief, laughing their fool heads off all the way to the bank! Americans have been royally screwed by the rich and powerful!

OK....so how about drilling in Alaska? Sure there could be problems, but much less then deep sea drilling.....and, Alaska residents want it; the majority of US wants it; statistics show it doesn't harm the local animal population; and we can lessen imported oil...........so how about it Obama?. And....drilling off the California coast is NOT the same as the Gulf drilling....ie, depth, etc..

In the future, I would love to see polls like this list further statistics on participants, such as education level, age, occupation, political preference, etc.... These would all be helpful to ascertain accuracy and voting potential....and would help sort realistic values rather than sheep following the most recent headlines.

Quit whining about oil production unless you, yourself use no gasoline, natural gas, or petroleum products whatsoever. Even if you only walk or bicycle, the rubber in your shoes and bike tires is still a petroleum product. Use of petroleum products is just our way of life, they are very helpful and useful products, and it would be very painful to live without them. Like any endeavor, there will be the occasional accident. This is a problem, sure, but it's not the End Of the World, like the newspapers try to portray it. All the critters in the gulf will come back. It's only a problem for the fishermen and tour operators there, really, in the near term. Also, don't forget, the gulf states derive a lot of tax income and employment from the oil industry [there are 4000 offshore rigs down there!!], so they have long benefitted as well.

Also, this isn't even CLOSE to being one of the largest oil spills in history. Google "largest oil spills", and you'll see neither this nor the Exxon Valdez is even in the top 10.

I used to be in favor of off shore drilling. I am now COMPLETELY against it. I would not vote for any candidate in favor of it now. This BP thing has opened my eyes, as well as the eyes of the current administration and voters. We need an alternative to oil.

.....GO SOLAR....
.....GO WINDMILL....
.....GO THERMAL....

I don't know what half the times are polling, but energy independence from our enemies is far more important than risking a blowout. Our coastline is only a coulple hundren feet deep, not a mile. If a plane crashes, we don't ban flying. Any extreme reaction to this will only hurt our efforts at energy dependance.

look what happened in the gulf, that's just careless

I'm a realist. I know we need to drill for our own oil, if only to not be reliant of other countries.

BUT, if these oil rig operators can't figure out how to stop a leak within a few days, they have no business building them.

Don't worry, we can walk or bike

without clean beaches, property value will down and less tax revenue for the state and local governments to spend, good idea?

We need the oil! i dont think we need to be getting it from other countries!

Well let’s see, where to begin.
1.48 percent of voters with a plus or minus 2.6 percent margin of error is not Californians turning against offshore drilling.
2.The poll was conducted by the Times and USC.
3.The poll concerns new drilling - not existing drilling.
4.The data in this report is not strong enough to prove that a majority of Californians are against offshore drilling. But the results might have more credibility if the Times included a question regarding whether an inevitable increases in energy costs and taxes would impact the answerer’s stance on offshore drilling.

Well i wonder why Californians have changed their perspective? Did you know another poll shows that Montanans do not want off shore drill in Montana either? I mean this is a no brainer and somebody wasted money doing a survey about the obvious.

Is it really that surprising no one wants new off shore drilling during the biggest spill in history?

Oil companies have destroyed Plaquemines Parish. B.P. and other oil companies have murdered people from Louisiana, Texas, Alaska all the way into Latin America and Africa. They destroy the environment, bring even more corruption to an already corrupt government and cut safety corners. There is simply no way to drill safe and oil comapnies have no caring about the communties which they drill

In a perfect world the transition from fossil to renewable would be seamless and instantaneous. That is not the real world. We are going to have to have oil, preferably our own. This we will need so that we can keep this nation safe and prosperous. Where we get that oil and how we go about getting it should be determined by what the risk are in getting it and what we will gain or loose when we get it. I considered myself a "tree hugger" and I do think that I bleed green but I am practical about change and how to go about that change. Put me down as a yes on drilling offshore but with a couple of criteria to be met before that drilling takes place. 1.) IF YOU CAN'T GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF THIS PLANET THEN YOU CAN'T DRILL. 2.) IF YOU PUT PERSONAL GAIN BEFORE THE HEALTH OF THIS NATION THEN YOU CAN'T DRILL.

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