By Ben Geman - 05/09/11 05:30 PM EDT
Americans blame oil companies and market speculators far more than the White House or the GOP for high prices at the gasoline pump, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday.
The results — which also show that 77 percent believe oil companies are making too much profit — could indicate a political tailwind for Democratic legislative and messaging efforts that have focused on bashing “Big Oil” and alleging speculators are feeding higher pump prices.
It also shows that 63 percent of adults say they have cut back significantly on driving due to the recent increase in gas prices.
The poll of roughly 1,000 adults finds that 61 percent assign a “great deal” of blame to oil companies for the recent price run-up, while 27 percent say the industry deserves “some blame.”
Similarly, 59 percent say speculators and other investors in oil markets deserve a great deal of blame, and 31 percent say they deserve some blame. Oil producing countries and violence in the Middle East are also widely blamed.
A much lower level — 25 percent — say Obama administration's policies deserve a great deal of blame, and 36 percent say they deserve some blame.
Congressional Republicans fared similarly to the administration — 24 percent said GOP policies deserve a great deal of blame and 42 percent laid some blame at their feet.
Sixteen percent of respondents said the administration and Republicans deserve “not much blame” for recent increases.
The poll shows that environmental rules are also a factor for respondents. Regulations score at 24 percent and 37 percent in the “great deal” and “some” blame categories, respectively. Republicans commonly say that regulations are driving up costs.
Elsewhere, 21 percent said American driving habits deserve a great deal of blame for the recent price increases, and 41 percent say they are somewhat to blame.
The survey was conducted by phone between April 29 and May 1 and has a margin of error of 3 percent.
Regular gasoline is averaging $3.96 per gallon nationwide, according to AAA, and is well above $4 in many areas. But some analysts say prices are peaking and could start to retreat.