A month after a plurality of North Carolinians said for the first time that they were opposed to offshore drilling our newest poll of the state finds a majority once again in support of it, raising questions about how permanent the change in public opinion about drilling will be once the spill in the Gulf has left the headlines.
Voters in the state say they support drilling by a 50/39 margin. While that's still well down from a poll taken in April right before the spill that showed 61/26 approval, it's up a good deal from last month's poll that found 46% of North Carolinians in opposition to only 42% supportive.
The renewed support for drilling is coming across the board politically. Republicans have gone from 59% to 69% favor, independents have gone from 46% to 53%, and Democrats have gone from 27% to 34%.
Particularly interesting are the views of people who live in the eastern part of the state along the coast. In northeastern North Carolina there is 55% support and in southeastern North Carolina there is 52% support, in both cases outpacing the amount of support there is statewide. That would seem to suggest coastal residents are much less concerned about being directly impacted by the spill in the Gulf than they might have been a month ago.
I don't know if the popularity of offshore drilling in North Carolina will ever be quite what it was before but it's clear that for a lot of residents opposition to it was shortlived and the numbers will probably continue to move closer to what they were before, especially if there's a rise in gas prices.
Full results here