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02/28/2013 03:53 pm ET

Offshore Drilling Support High As Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trial Opens

After the opening of a trial this week to assess BP's responsibility for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that support for offshore drilling has returned to high levels, and more think that spills are isolated accidents rather than routine events.

According to the new survey, 58 percent of Americans favor increased offshore drilling, and only 28 percent are opposed. Among Republicans, support for drilling is near universal, with 86 percent saying that they support expanded drilling. Most independents also said they support drilling, 58 percent to 26 percent. Democrats were divided on the issue, with 41 percent saying they favored and 40 percent saying they were opposed to increased drilling.

Support for increased drilling has recovered nearly to where it was before the Gulf oil spill. A YouGov/Economist poll conducted the month before the spill found that support for increased drilling outstripped opposition 62 percent to 24 percent. Support dropped as low as 44 percent in another YouGov/Economist poll taken after the spill, in June of 2010, with 40 percent saying they opposed expanded drilling at that time.

By a 50 percent to 30 percent margin, respondents to the HuffPost/YouGov survey were more likely to say that drilling technology is safe and that spills are rare accidents -- rather than say that the technology is unreliable and routine spills inevitable.

The survey also finds a big turnaround in how people perceive BP's role in cleaning up the spill since YouGov's last survey on the subject, in April of 2011. Forty-eight percent of respondents now say that they would rate BP's cleanup efforts as either excellent or good (though only 13 percent said excellent), while 36 percent say that BP was doing only a fair or poor job. In the April 2011 YouGov/Economist survey, more than half said that BP was doing only a fair or poor job.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents to the survey think that a lot of progress has been made in cleaning up the 2010 spill. Another 28 percent think some progress has been made. Thirteen percent said not much progress has been made, and 3 percent said no progress has been made at all.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Feb. 26-27 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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