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Gallup poll finds Americans say gas prices of $5.30 would force major life changes

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.


John McAvoy

Eighty-five percent say the president and Congress should “take immediate actions to try to control the rising price of gas.”

-Good Grief! How ignorant is the population?

The price of gas is set by the world wide market. The US is currently a net exporter of gasoline. If the government was to interfere with the free market and forbid gasoline export, prices would tumble and the right wing would scream socialism!


Make gasoline from natural gas at $2 per gallon then sell it wholesale for $3 per gallon. You make enough of it, that would stabilize prices and buffer us from OPEC and speculation.


Tax the hell out of the speculators. that would solve the problem.


Too many people are talking through their hat.

Gas price went from less than $2.65/gal to over $5.30/gal in our area in the last 3 years or so and NOBODY really changed their life style. The only (good) change we've made is leaving the big monsters in the Distributors parking lot. People bought better, more efficient, smaller vehicles doing 30+ mpg instead of 15 mpg and travel just as many miles as before.

As gas goes up another $2.65/gal to $7.95/gal, people will buy 50+ mpg HEVs and 100+ mpg PHEVs and life will go on.


Oil went from $20 per barrel in 2000 to $147 in 2008, gasoline went from $1.50 to $4.50 per gallon during the same time in California.

The only difference was people wished that they did not buy that big truck/SUV and they used small cars to commute. Once the prices went down, they went right back to their old ways.


gas is $8+ in most of Europe.
People get by.
People drive smaller, smaller engined cars, and lots of diesels.
The diesels get about 40 mpg US (+- a bit).
Smaller petrol engined cars get the same.
There are a lot of 1.0 - 1.3 L manual cars around.

In cities, people take public transport, and an increasing number use bikes. Some people even walk.

I suppose this is because Gas tax has always been high in Europe, and the EU's CO2 taxation / measurement policy was pushing people to more efficient cars anyway, so that when gas got really expensive, people had already bought efficient cars.

At 50 mpg, $8 gas (or diesel) is not such a problem.


Gas prices in my area are not as high (at this moment) as they are in Harvey's or mahonj's but at $5/usgal they are close enough for me to say this so called "tipping point" is bullpucky. Have I made changes to the way I live my life? Yes. Were they "major" or "significant?" No.



"Once the prices went down, they went right back to their old ways."

That was what I noticed too. As soon as the oil price tumbled after the credit crunch of 2008, people started buying more gas guzzling cars. What were they thinking?

Short term thinking has its drawback and now they feel the pain, they are whining and demanding from the government to save their *sses. To them government only exists to lower taxes and make sure that gas stays affordable. Children, that's what they are.


Roger Pham

Good point, Anne.
Referring to my posting in 3-11-12 in the latest "2011 EPA fuel economy trend..." article, today's vehicles could have averaged 35 mpg if the vehicles weight and acceleration were kept at 1987's level, instead of at a lowly level of 22.8 mpg. With a fleet average of 35 mpg, we would have no problem dealing with gasoline at $5.30/gallon US.

Governments, do not spoil your "children."


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