As the BP spill disaster continues to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, support for offshore drilling continues to drop. While polling immediately after the spill still showed majority support for increased offshore drilling, that support was not solid and has not found its floor:
CBS News Poll. May 20-24, 2010. N=1,054 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.
"Would you favor allowing increased drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast, or do you think the costs and risks are too great?"
Risks too great
May 24, 2010
May 09, 2010
Aug 18, 2008
This is the first poll in the archives of polling report to show plurality opposition to increased offshore drilling. While other polling still sows majority support for increased offshore drilling, there are two factors to keep in mind:
Much of the continued support for increased offshore drilling is soft. A CNN poll conducted from May 21-May 23 shows a majority in favor of increased drilling, 57%--41%. However, strong support barely edged out strong opposition, 27%-25%. Almost the entire advantage for increased drilling came from "mild" supporters, who outnumbered mild opponents 30%-16%. Those mild supporters are movable, and the likely source of the continued drop in overall support for increased drilling. As the size of the disaster continues to reveal itself, they will likely continue to fall off the rolls of supporters.
In short, while this CBS poll is the first to show a plurality opposed to drilling, it will likely not be the last poll to show public opinion closely divided on this matter. The days of pro-drilling forces holding the edge in public opinion are drawing to a close.
In related news, President Obama will hold a press conference today, with opening remarks on the oil spill. Also, the Senate is fighting to remove the liability cap on oil companies responsible for spills. Kate Sheppard and Greg Sargent have a good rundown of the legislation and process involved in that fight.