Americans have expressed support in recent weeks for a ban on Russian oil imports, but are consumers prepared to accept the consequences of such a policy by paying more at the pump?
A few recent surveys suggest the answer is yes. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:
A wide majority of Americans, 79%, said they favored a ban on Russian oil imports even if the prohibition increased energy prices in the U.S., according to data from a new Wall Street Journal poll. Just 13% said they opposed it.... The Journal poll surveyed 529 registered voters from March 4-7 on this question: “Would you favor or oppose the U.S. imposing new sanctions on Russia by banning the sale of Russian oil to the U.S., even if you knew it would cause U.S. energy prices to increase?”
On many of the nation’s most contentious issues, there’s a sizable gap based on party affiliation, with Democratic and Republican voters disagreeing in large numbers. But these survey results from the Wall Street Journal suggest the issue is less divisive: 88 percent of Democrats support the moratorium on Russian oil imports, and 77 percent of Republicans agree.
Even 72 percent of voters who would vote for Donald Trump in 2024 are on board with the policy.
The latest Quinnipiac poll pointed in a similar direction: 71 percent of the public said it would support a ban on Russian oil even if it meant higher gasoline prices in the United States. While the partisan gap was a bit larger in this poll, Republicans still endorsed the moratorium by a two-to-one margin.
Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said, “Americans are ready to put a chokehold on Russia’s key financial lifeblood, oil, no matter what the consequences are at the pump.”
This came on the heels of a Morning Consult poll, which showed more competitive results, but which nevertheless showed 49 percent of voters saying the government should target Russian oil exports even if it causes gas prices to rise.
Public attitudes, of course, can change quickly. Much of the country has been repulsed by the crisis in Ukraine, and many Americans appear to be responding by saying they’re prepared to accept a sacrifice: Consumers will pay more when filling up, as part of an effort to isolate the Russian government.
Whether those attitudes will persist in the coming weeks and months remains to be seen.
That said, the data is also politically relevant. There’s been some commentary of late about President Joe Biden facing possible blowback as the public faces higher gas prices. But the polling suggests a more nuanced picture coming into focus: If Americans realize that they’re paying more because of the war, and they’re prepared to accept the cost in pursuit of a larger goal, the political consequences may not be entirely in line with the conventional wisdom.