Surge in Public's View of Energy as Greatest Problem

by Frank Newport

New Gallup poll shows that one out of five Americans name energy

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The American public now perceives the energy issue to be one of the most problems facing the nation, representing a remarkable surge in the perceived importance of energy concerns in just one month. The latest Gallup poll, conducted May 10-14, shows that 21% of Americans now mention some aspect of energy in response to Gallup's traditional "what is the most important problem facing the nation" question. Just 3% of Americans mentioned energy last month.

More specifically, 12% now spontaneously mention the lack of adequate energy sources as the country's most important problem, and another 9% mention the high cost of fuel, gas and oil. Last month, only 2% mentioned the lack of energy, and only 1% mentioned the high price of gas and other energy.

What else do Americans perceive as the country's most important problem?

  • The general economy -- mentioned by 10%
  • Education -- 9%
  • Ethics/morals/religious/family decline; dishonesty; lack of integrity -- 8%
  • Crime and violence -- 7%
  • Unemployment and lack of jobs -- 6%
  • Drugs -- 5%
  • Dissatisfaction with government and Congress and politicians -- 5%

Here are the details:

What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today? [Open-ended]

   

May 10-14,
2001

 

Apr 6-8,
2001

 

Mar 5-7,
2001

 

Jan 10-14,
2001

 

Apr 3-9,
2000

             
   

%

%

%

%

%

 

ECONOMIC PROBLEMS (NET)

31

33

29

22

--

1

Economy in general

10

15

10

7

4

2

Fuel/Oil Prices

9

1

1

2

4

3

Unemployment/jobs

6

6

4

4

2

4

Taxes

4

4

7

5

3

5

Gap between rich and poor

1

2

1

1

1

6

High cost of living/inflation

1

7

2

1

1

7

Federal budget deficit/federal debt

1

1

2

1

1

8

Wage issues

*

*

1

1

1

9

Trade relations/deficit

*

1

*

*

*

10

Recession

*

--

3

4

*

 

Other specific economic

2

--

1

*

1

             
 

NON-ECONOMIC PROBLEMS (NET)

68

69

76

77

--

1

Lack of energy sources

12

2

2

4

*

2

Education

9

10

16

12

11

3

Ethics/moral/religious/family decline; dishonesty; lack of integrity

8

9

11

13

7

4

Crime/violence

7

6

8

9

12

5

Drugs

5

6

6

7

5

6

Dissatisfaction with government/ Congress/ politicians/ candidates; Poor leadership; corruption

5

7

5

9

11

7

Poverty/ hunger/ homelessness

4

4

5

4

6

8

Poor healthcare/ hospitals; high cost of healthcare

4

5

7

7

6

9

Children's behavior/ way they are raised

4

6

6

3

3

10

Foreign aid/focus overseas

3

1

1

*

*

11

Environment/ pollution

3

3

2

2

2

12

Medicare/Social Security issues

3

2

4

3

3

13

Situation/Conflict with China

2

7

--

--

--

14

Lack of Money

2

--

--

--

--

15

Race relations/ racism

2

2

2

4

3

16

Guns/gun control

1

1

4

1

5

17

Abortion

1

1

1

1

1

18

Judicial system/courts/laws

1

2

1

1

1

19

Unifying the country

1

*

1

1

--

20

Lack of respect for each other

1

1

1

--

--

21

Lack of military defense

1

1

2

2

1

22

Welfare

1

1

1

2

1

23

Immigration/illegal aliens

1

1

*

2

1

24

International issues/ problems

*

3

4

4

2

25

Overpopulation

*

1

1

1

*

26

Child abuse

*

*

--

1

1

27

Fear of war

*

1

2

*

1

28

Care for the elderly

*

1

1

2

2

29

The media

*

1

1

1

--

30

School shootings/school violence

*

3

5

0

*

31

Election/election reform

*

1

*

2

--

32

National security

*

*

1

--

--

 

Cancer/Diseases

--

1

--

--

--

 

Advancement of computers/technology

--

--

*

0

--

 

AIDS

--

--

--

*

*

 

Other non-economic

6

4

1

3

11

             
 

No opinion

6

7

7

8

5

 

Total

127%

138%

141%

135%

125%

             

Total adds to more than 100% due to multiple responses

         

*Less than 0.5%

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,012 adults, 18 years and older, conducted May 10-14, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 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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