University of Texas poll gives Obama energy edge over Romney

A poll on “Energy and the Election,” released Oct. 16 by the University of Texas at Austin gives President Obama the edge over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney when it comes to energy policy.

When asked which candidate they believe has the best energy platform for the nation, 37% said Obama and 28% said Romney while the remainder were either undecided or unsure.

The same poll finds that gasoline prices constitute the biggest energy concern for most people followed by the price of electricity. The poll also finds that most people believe climate change is occurring and the people who say they support nuclear power outnumber those who oppose it.

The University of Texas poll also failed to turn up any massive anti-coal fervor among the voters contacted.

The poll is a collaborative effort with representatives from academic institutions, polling companies and non-governmental organizations. The online survey was conducted Sept. 6 through Sept. 17 and involved 2,092 respondents weighted to reflect U.S. Census demographics.

The University of Texas poll said 92% said they were concerned about the cost of gasoline; the cost of electricity 84%; consumption of energy from foreign sources 79%; the portion of household budget spent on energy 78%;  energy efficiency in the home 73%; depletion of water resources 73% and developing renewable energy sources 72%. The three lowest ranking concerns were carbon emissions 65%; oil drilling and production’s environmental impact 61% and impact of hydraulic fracturing 53%.

When asked about the likelihood of taking certain energy actions within the next five years, 45% said they could use “smart meter” technology; 36% said they could own a hybrid vehicle; 28% said they might install solar panels and 24% said they could own a fully electric vehicle.

On the smart meter issue, 51% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans said they are likely to use a smart meter.

The survey indicated 73% of respondent think climate change is occurring, compared to 65% in March 2012. The survey indicated that 79% of independents, 85% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans believe that climate change is occurring.

Deforestation (74%) was most commonly cited as a contributing factor to global climate change followed by oil (61%), coal (51%) and natural forces that are not manmade (47%).

The survey indicated that 38% of respondents support the use of nuclear power; 38% are not sure and 18% oppose it.

Respondents were asked if they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who took certain positions on energy.

Increasing funding for energy technology research was favored by 62%; expanding natural gas development was backed by 58%; expanding incentives for renewable energy was also 58%; requiring utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources was 57%; approving construction of the XL Keystone pipeline was 45%; expanding offshore oil development in the Gulf Coast of Mexico was 44%.

The three lowest scoring policy options were decreasing the use of coal 40%; permitting oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 35% and offering loan guarantees for nuclear power 25%.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at