John McCain and the Bush administration has been arguing for the past week that the United States should lift a federal moratorium on off-shore drilling. And while no credible economist believes such a policy would do much to lower the price of gas, the Republican Party clearly thinks it has a winning issue on its hands.
One top GOP aide recently told the Huffington Post, "The energy issue has finally given the caucus something to talk about. It lets us look like the party of action while the Democrats can't call for these policies."
Now, evidence has emerged that the country is falling in line behind McCain and the Republican Party's view, driven, likely, by sky-high gas prices. A PEW poll released today shows that "public support for greater energy exploration is spiking."
"Nearly half (47%) now rates energy exploration as the more important priority, up from 35% in February. The proportion saying it is more important to increase energy conservation and regulation has declined by 10 points (from 55% to 45%)."
Defying conventional wisdom, Pew found that much of the increase in energy exploration has actually come from "young people, liberals, independents, Democrats, women and people who have attended college" -- in other words, groups that have been sour on drilling in the past.
"Fully half of people ages 18 to 29 (51%) now say expanding energy exploration is a more important priority for energy policy than increasing energy conservation and regulation; only about a quarter of young people (26%) expressed this view in February. The proportion of liberals who say expanded energy exploration is the more important priority also has doubled (from 22% to 45%)."
Though, it should be noted, that Democrats too have tried to position themselves as not inherently anti-drilling, launching a "use-it or lose-it" campaign that chastises oil companies for not exploring the totality of the lands they have under lease.