Public Feeling Effect of Fuel Prices

Polls reveal changes in habits

WASHINGTON -- Seven in 10 people in a recent AP-Ipsos poll said they expect high gasoline prices to cause financial problems in the coming months - up from half who felt that way in June 2004. Four in 10 of those polled recentlyespecially women, minorities and older Americanssaid gasoline costs will cause them serious problems.

The cost of gasoline could ease somewhat as domestic oil production returns to August levels in the coming months. Industry officials estimate that natural gas and heating oil prices will rise about 70% because already tight supplies [image-nocss] were disrupted by Katrina.

Those high prices are changing people's behavior, a recent Pew Research Center poll found. More than two-thirds of people in that poll said they are driving less and shop for the best price on gasoline. More than six in 10 said they are adjusting the temperature in their homes to keep a lid on utility bills. Almost that many said they have changed their plans for travel to avoid driving long distances. Almost three in 10 said they have bought a car that gets better mileage.

Seven in 10 in the AP-Ipsos poll said they disapprove of how the president is handling gasoline prices, and 43% of Republicans surveyed said they were unhappy with Bush over fuel costs.

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,002 adults was conducted September 6-8, and the Pew survey of 1,523 adults was taken September 8-11.