A recent Gallup poll has found that Americans on average say gas prices of $5.30 to $5.35 per gallon are the tipping point that would make them cut back on spending in other areas or make significant changes in the way they live their lives.
Two questions about the implications of the rising price of gas on spending and lifestyle changes were asked of two separate random split samples of about 500 respondents each during Gallup interviewing conducted 5-6 March. Americans appear to make little distinction about the impact of gas prices, whether the question is worded as “significant cutbacks in your spending in other areas” or “significant changes in the way you live your life.”
The responses varied widely, with 14% to 17% of Americans saying a price of less than $4 per gallon would be high enough to cause them to change their lifestyle or cut back on spending elsewhere. Another 28% each say a price point in the $4 range would cause these changes. The overall average “tipping point” price of roughly $5.30, however, suggests there is room for a considerably greater increase in gas prices before Americans say prices will begin to have widespread, serious consequences on their spending and lifestyle patterns.
Despite the finding that the price of gas is apparently not yet causing significant disruptions in Americans' lives, most Americans still want their elected representatives in Washington to address the issue. Eighty-five percent say the president and Congress should “take immediate actions to try to control the rising price of gas.”
Large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats say the president and Congress should take such actions, with Republicans and Republican-leaning independents slightly more inclined in that direction than Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.
At the same time, a somewhat lower 65% of Americans believe that the president and Congress can in fact take actions that would control the rising price of gas, while 31% say the rising price of gas is largely beyond politicians’ control.
Gallup expresses 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.