Why does report that drilling for domestic oil has jumped to the top of Americans' energy priorities? Maybe because Pew didn’t ask respondents if they want the nation to invest in clean energy and efficient cars, instead.
So suggests (pdf) by Belden Russonello & Stewart, released last week.
Have a look at its striking results. Renewable energy was listed as an energy solution, and guess what? Americans chose it over drilling by an overwhelming 76 percent to 19 percent.
Here’s the exact question posed by Belden:
Looking to the future, which one of the following do you think should be a more important priority for government: Investing in new energy technology including renewable fuels and more efficient automobiles; or expanding exploration and drilling for more oil?
Invest in new energy technology -- 76%
Expand exploration and drilling -- 19%
Don’t know -- 5%
There’s more from Belden:
Pew, on the other hand, asked respondents the following:
What’s the more important priority for US energy policy today?
(1) Expand exploration, mining/drilling, construction of new power plants
(2) More energy conservation/regulation
(3) Don’t know
The results? Forty-seven percent rated energy exploration as the more important priority, up from 35 percent in February. Further, the proportion of individuals that said it's more important to increase energy conservation and regulation dropped by 10 points, from 55 percent to 45 percent.
So: Given the false choice between drilling and the overused concepts of "conservation and regulation" -- which are virtually meaningless in the mouths of media, politicians and polls -- drilling and new power plants won.
We’re in an energy crisis on top of a sagging economy and Americans want action, not talk.
However, add specific clean energy options to the list of solutions -- such as new energy technology and efficient cars -- and they blow drill, drill, drill out the water. It's the same story with polls on coal.
And there you have a classic case of polling noise.
In an election year when energy is the #1 issue, this is especially destructive. Keep in mind that the Pew poll was picked up by every news source and writer on both sides of the aisle, and set off alarm bells among clean energy advocates and the whole Democratic party.
There’s that the Dems are falling for it, ditching sound policy proposals for drilling to win votes.
Time for top pollsters to stop hiding behind a meaningless cloud of concepts. Present actual clean energy policy choices to respondents. That way, survey results represent the wishes of the American people, fairly.
Too much to ask?