Doubts About Both Political Parties Still Running High
In addition to teaming up with Autobytel to present both the 2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards and the 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, AutoPacific also finds the time to field bi-monthly Fuel Impact Surveys that measure drivers’ opinions about the cost of gasoline and how it affects their lives. And one of the more recent studies—implemented specifically to determine “which political party they believe is best equipped to help control fuel costs”—shed some (surprisingly green) light on the situation.
The key takeaways from the study:
- U.S. drivers are still looking to the government to take the lead on energy policies.
- They want to see more efforts to promote alternative fuel sources, including wind and solar power.
- Confidence in the ability of either major political party to handle the job is abysmal.
The AutoPacific survey involved 867 U.S. drivers, who provided input during the period from Sept. 8-20, 2012, about ways for the country to achieve energy independence. Right near the top: Drill for more oil, the preference of 64 percent of the survey respondents. But actually in the No. 1 position, supported by 72 percent of the drivers questioned, was “add very large windmill farms”; building similarly sized solar farms was backed by 71 percent.
Also garnering support from more than half of the survey participants:
- 61 percent thought “The U.S. government should do more to support new clean energy technologies.”
- 60 percent wanted to build more nuclear plants.
- 58 percent believed that lawmakers should encourage the use of electric, diesel, hydrogen and other alternative fuels
- 56 percent said the government should “require the auto industry” to increase the fuel efficiency of their products
Clearly then, while American drivers haven’t given up on their preference for petroleum—only 22 percent of respondents thought we should stop drilling entirely to focus on clean energy, with just 17 percent wanting to give up drilling and emphasize conservation—it’s equally clear that they are amenable to some alternatives, too.
AutoPacific Fuel Cost Survey: Who Drivers Want
As far as which major political party is best positioned to help meet driver expectations here, the answer also was strikingly obvious: Neither. Overall, some 25 percent of the survey respondents claimed that “none of the political parties are equipped to implement a successful energy policy,” and the numbers for Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers are even worse.
There is a general tilt toward the Democratic Party on the part of younger drivers, and it’s counter-balanced by a similar trend in the other direction among the Boomers, but let’s look a bit deeper:
- Generation Y—28 percent of the youngest survey respondents—born after 1980—favored the Democrats, versus 16 percent for the Republicans.
- Generation X—The numbers begin shifting as drivers age, with 23 percent of Gen X participants (born between 1964 and 1979-ish) lining up behind the Dems and 17 percent having more faith in the Republicans.
- Baby Boomers—Finally, among those born between 1946 and the early 1960s, 30 percent leaned toward the GOP as opposed to 23 percent for the Democrats.
Even the mathematically challenged will note that combining the figures above indicates that 56 percent of Generation Y respondents and 60 percent of those from Generation X are none too thrilled with either choice. And even looking at the Baby Boomers, we find that nearly half—47 percent—lack confidence in either the Democrats or the Republicans.