PRINCETON, NJ -- No fewer than two in three Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on producing domestic energy using solar power (76%), wind (71%), and natural gas (65%). Far fewer want to emphasize the production of oil (46%) and the use of nuclear power (37%). Least favored is coal, with about one in three Americans wanting to prioritize its domestic production.
Democrats' and independents' top choice is solar power, while natural gas places first among Republicans. Republicans and Democrats disagree most on the priority that should be given to oil as a future energy source -- with 71% of Republicans wanting more emphasis placed on it, compared with 29% among Democrats. Republicans are also much more supportive than Democrats of coal (51% vs. 21%) and nuclear power (49% vs. 30%).
Where Americans live makes a difference in their views about which sources of domestic energy they want the U.S. to emphasize more. Those living in the South tend to be more supportive of traditional energy sources such as oil and coal than are those in other regions.
Still, for Americans in every region, including the South, solar power is the top choice, or is tied for the top spot, among the energy sources tested.
The United States has a great opportunity to accelerate its economic growth over the next several years by emphasizing and fully using its enormous energy riches to produce domestic energy. But there has been no consensus among Americans about how to optimize domestic energy production while preserving the environment.
Americans overall and across political and socioeconomic groups generally are most likely to call for more emphasis on solar and wind power -- but these potential future sources of energy have a long way to go in terms of technology and affordability before they can significantly affect overall U.S. domestic energy production. On the other hand, Americans are sharply divided politically over achieving greater domestic energy production using more traditional energy sources such as oil, coal, and nuclear power.
This leaves natural gas, which 59% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 79% of Republicans say should have more emphasis in the U.S. The technology exists to allow natural gas to become a more significant contributor to U.S. domestic energy production. But questions remain about the safety of "fracking technology" -- meaning public support may not be enough to increase the U.S. emphasis on this energy source.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 7-10, 2013, with a random sample of 1,022 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphones numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.