One in Five Americans Expect Gas to Hit $5 Per Gallon

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

Nearly three in four say gas prices are causing hardship or changes in spending

PRINCETON, NJ -- While 9 in 10 Americans expect gas prices at the pump to hit $4 a gallon in their local areas this summer, one in five expect them to hit $5 a gallon, and 1 in 20 are looking for gas prices to reach $6 a gallon.

Surging Gas Prices Having Significant Impact on Three in Four Americans

On Monday in the nation's capital, American truckers protested high fuel prices. But the squeeze people find themselves in at the moment is not limited to those who drive the big rigs. Nearly three in four Americans say today's record gas prices are creating a hardship for them personally (20%) or have caused them to adjust their usual spending and saving habits in significant ways (52%).

Growing Political Issue

When asked in an open-ended format which one or two issues should be the top priorities for the president and Congress to deal with at this time, 22% of Americans say gas and energy prices. That is twice the level of a month ago and is well above mentions of any other specific economic issue, including healthcare (at 16%). (The top overall issue is general mentions of the economy, at 48%.)

While in reality, most government efforts to deal with the current gas-price crisis may do more harm than good, doing nothing as gas prices significantly disrupt the living standards of most Americans is likely to be unacceptable, particularly in an election year.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup Panel study are based on telephone interviews with 1,008 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 25-27, 2008. Gallup Panel members are recruited through random selection methods. The panel is weighted so that it is demographically representative of the U.S. adult population. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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