How long lasting are the effects of disasters on public opinion?
The nuclear plant crisis that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan has prompted a spike in opposition in the U.S. to increased use of nuclear power, much like the rise in opposition to increased offshore oil drilling following the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that was set off last April by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform.
But almost a year later, according to a Pew Research Center poll
conducted March 17-20, support for more offshore oil drilling has rebounded.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed by Pew following the drama at Japan's nuclear plants said they opposed increased use of nuclear power compared to 39 percent who supported it. That's a turnaround from February 2010, when 52 percent favored increased use of nuclear power and 41 percent were opposed.
Pew's measures of public opinion on nuclear plants has fluctuated over recent years between support and opposition for more use of nuclear power plants.
A Gallup poll
conducted March 15 found that 47 percent opposed building more nuclear plants compared to 44 percent in favor, a turnaround from the 57 percent to 38 percent margin of support for more plants in a previous poll. But Gallup's polling figures shows more consistent support over the years for more plants. (Pew asked respondents if they favored or opposed "promoting the increased use of nuclear power" while Gallup asked if those surveyed favored or opposed "construction of nuclear power plants in the U.S."
After last year's Deepwater Horizon spill occurred, support for more offshore oil drilling fell from 63 percent in in February 2010, just prior to the spill, to 44 percent, with 52 percent opposing increased drilling. But Pew's latest poll finds support for increased drilling has rebounded to 57 percent who are in favor of it, compared to 37 percent who are opposed.
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