A majority of voters continue to favor the building of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas that congressional Republicans are prodding President Barack Obama to approve in legislation passed last week.
Republicans see the pipeline as a job creator, while Democrats view it as an environmental risk.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53 percent of Likely Voters now at least somewhat favor building the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s down seven points from 60 percent five weeks ago, but the level of strong support is basically unchanged.
In November, the overall finding included 36 percent who Strongly Favored building the pipeline, and 35 percent feel that way now.
Twenty-nine percent of voters at least somewhat oppose building the pipeline, with 15 percent who are Strongly Opposed. In the previous survey, 24 percent were opposed, including 10 percent Strongly Opposed. Seventeen percent remain undecided.
The shift in numbers is largely due to increased opposition by Democrats and voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties. More than 70 percent of Republicans still favor the pipeline, but a plurality (46 percent) of voters in the president’s party now are opposed, compared to 46 percent who favored it in November.
Similarly, 61 percent of unaffiliated voters supported building the pipeline in the earlier survey. Now, just 49 percent favor the project, and opposition has risen from 22 percent to 27 percent. The number of undecideds has increased among these voters as well.
At the time of the November survey, just 59 percent of voters were following news reports about the pipeline at least somewhat closely, with only 26 percent following Very Closely.
Eighty-one percent have been following news reports about the payroll tax cut debate in Congress which included discussion of the Keystone XL pipeline, with 49 percent following Very Closely.
The national survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on Dec. 26, 2011, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-3 percentage points.
Most voters agree that extending a 2 percent cut in the Social Security payroll tax for all of 2012 will be beneficial for the economy but won’t significantly impact their financial plans for the year. Congress signed off on a two-month extension of the tax cut last week but are hoping to extend it for all of 2012 when they reconvene after the holiday.
As part of that legislation, Republicans included a provision requiring the president to speed up his decision on whether to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline.
The president’s approval is required because the pipeline crosses an international border.
Even though TransCanada, the builder of the pipeline, agreed to change its course to alleviate environmental concerns, the State Department review ordered by the president was not expected to be completed until after the November election.
Male voters are more strongly in favor of the pipeline than female voters are. Voters under 40 are much less supportive than their elders.
Union members don’t like the pipeline as much as nonmembers do. Those who say they are part of the tea party movement overwhelmingly favor building it.
Seventy-five percent of all voters feel America needs to do more to develop domestic gas and oil resources. Voters also still give the edge to finding new sources of oil over reducing gas and oil consumption.
In regular surveys for the past two years, a plurality of voters have agreed that there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection.
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