Poll: Gulf Coast Residents Angry but Optimistic about Spill

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.


Most Gulf Coast residents say the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is creating hardship in their life, a new CBS News/ New York Times poll shows, but optimism about the region's eventual economic and environmental recovery remains high among residents.

Anger runs high about the spill, CBS News and the New York Times found in interviews with residents of the coastal counties surrounding the Gulf in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. A majority of Gulf Coast residents (55 percent) -- and most Americans overall (56 percent) -- are angry about it, and an additional four in 10 are bothered by it.

The spill is perceived as having already impacted the area. Four in five Gulf residents say the spill has hurt their area at least some, including 54 percent who say it has hurt their communities a lot.

A third of coastal residents report a direct impact to themselves or their families. Another 32 percent see an indirect impact.

Four in 10 Gulf residents report at least some financial hardship arising from the spill. Still, most (59 percent) say they have experienced little or no financial hardship because of it.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Disaster in the Gulf

Thirty-one percent of those affected by the spill along the Gulf Coast say they have either lost their job or had a loss of income. Another 28 percent mention the impact on fishing and seafood as the main way they've been affected.

Despite the current hardships, 72 percent of Gulf residents (and 79 percent of Americans overall) think the Gulf's local economy, including fishing and tourism, will eventually recover.

And most Gulf residents (69 percent) think the local environment will eventually recover -- but 26 percent think it won't.

People who live in Gulf counties hold similar views to the public overall when it comes to President Obama's handling of the oil spill; 64 percent think the president's response to the spill was too slow (as do 61 percent of the public overall). And like Americans overall, few Gulf residents (21 percent) approve of how BP is handling the spill.

Additionally, 38 percent of Gulf residents say the president cares "a lot" about the needs of people affected by the spill. Among Americans overall, 43 percent said the president cares a lot.

Seventy-five percent of those in the region think BP could be doing more to stop the leak, while just 23 percent think it is doing all it can.

More from the poll:

Poll: Most Say Obama Lacks Clear Plans on the Oil Spill, Energy or Jobs
Poll: Most Say Months Before Oil Stops Spewing
Poll: Vast Majority say U.S. Energy Policy Needs Major Changes
Read the complete poll


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,259 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone June 16-20, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

An oversample of residents in coastal counties of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi was conducted for this poll, for a total of 318 interviews. The results were then weighted in proportion to the adult population. The margin of error for the sample of these Gulf Coast residents is six points.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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