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Poll: Americans hurting from rising gas prices

CBS News

Amid a national spike in gas prices, two in three Americans say the hike in costs is causing them financial hardship at home, according to a CBS News poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted between February 24 and 27, surveyed more than a thousand adults nationwide as gas prices continued to climb to an average of $3.731 per gallon, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. A month ago, the average cost was more than $0.30 cheaper, at $3.429 dollars a gallon.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans say high gas prices have caused a financial hardship in their households; of those, 38 percent say that hardship is serious. Thirty-two percent of Americans say they had not suffered financial hardship to do the rising costs of gas.

Americans with lower household incomes are especially likely to feel pain at the pump. Forty-nine percent of those earning less than $50,000 say hikes in gas prices have caused them serious financial hardship; among those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, only 29 percent say the same thing. That number falls even further to 22 percent among those with incomes of $100,000 and higher.

At 37 percent, Republicans were more likely to say that they had experienced serious hardship due to the rising prices than were Democrats (28 percent), although 32 percent of people in both parties said the price hikes had caused them difficulties of some nature.

There are regional differences as well. Americans living in the West (43 percent) are most likely to suffer seriously from high gas prices; those in the Northeast (27 percent) are the least likely to suffer to the same degree. Thirty-nine percent of Americans in both the Midwest and South said high gas prices had caused them serious economic hardship.

Americans are not particularly optimistic about gas prices dropping anytime soon. Eighty-six percent say they expect prices to go up; only six percent anticipate that they will decrease, and five percent say they think the prices will stay the same going forward.

A majority of people do think that a president has some control over the situation. Fifty-four percent say gas prices are something a president can do a lot about, while 34 percent think it is beyond any president's control.

There are partisan differences on this question, however. Republicans (71 percent) are more likely to say the president, now a Democrat, can do something significant to control the price of gas, while Democrats are more divided. Forty-two percent of Democrats say a president can do a lot about gas prices; 43 percent say it is beyond his control.

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