Elon Poll: Two out of three N.C. residents support offshore oil drilling

A majority of North Carolinians support offshore oil drilling initiatives, and nearly four out of five respondents in the latest Elon University Poll believe that supplies should be available exclusively to people living in the United States – not sold to nations overseas.

While 69 percent of North Carolina residents support offshore drilling, most respondents (79 percent) believe only people in the United States should use the oil and gas that is produced. More than half of poll respondents believe that offshore oil drilling would begin to affect gasoline prices within a decade of when drilling begins.

The percentages of survey respondents who indicated when they believe prices would be affected by offshore oil drilling:

Immediately to less than one year:
14 percent
One to five years: 29 percent
Six to 10 years: 24 percent
Will never affect gas prices: 6 percent

”People in North Carolina clearly believe that offshore oil drilling would reduce the pain they feel at the gasoline pump and may agree with any initiative to lift the ban that’s in place,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll.

The poll measured attitudes on several public policy issues in the news. Conducted Sept. 15-18, 2008, by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, pollsters surveyed 411 North Carolina residents. The sample is of the population in general and does not restrict respondents by their voter eligibility or likelihood of voting in an election.  The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.  The sample was comprised of both landlines and cellular phones.   


A majority of state residents (67 percent) disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the national economy.  Thirty-eight percent think the national economy is going to get worse in the next year, while 22 expect it to stay about the same and 35 percent are optimistic it will get better. 

Regarding the North Carolina economy, respondents are similarly divided:

State economy will worsen: 27 percent
State economy will stay about the same: 36 percent
State economy will get better: 33 percent

Most respondents seem confident their personal financial situation will not take a major hit in the next year.  Fifty percent say their situation will stay about the same, while 30 percent expect to see improvement in their finances. 


Eighty-three percent of residents report being covered by a form of private health care or insurance. A slight majority of all respondents (53 percent) say they are satisfied with the quality of health care in the United States.

Despite this, many residents are not closed off to more inclusive alternatives. Forty-four percent of respondents say they would prefer a universal health insurance program, in which all citizens would receive government-funded health care, compared to the 40 percent who are partial to the current privatized insurance system.


Immigration is a topic North Carolina residents feel strongly about, with 61 percent identifying it as a “very important” issue.  Similar to previous findings, the perception of undocumented immigrants within the state is largely negative.  Fifty-eight percent say the immigration of Hispanics and Latinos in recent years has been bad for the United States, while 65 percent oppose proposals to allow employed undocumented immigrants to stay in the country for several years.

”With so many different perspectives on all these issues just in North Carolina, it’s no wonder the statewide political races are so close,” Bacot said. “While they don’t necessarily feel an immediate impact from our turbulent economy, North Carolinians are a bit pessimistic about the nation’s overall economic outlook, and this one issue is likely to be a key factor in the elections this fall.”