Many Californians forced to cut back on food, clothing due to gasoline prices

By Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field

Californians are feeling the sting of the recent spike in gasoline prices beyond the $3 per gallon threshold, and many report cutting back spending in other areas.

Residents with household incomes of less than $40,000 a year to be forced to reduce spending in other areas and are more likely than others to view the price run-up as a serious matter.

When Californians are asked who is to blame for the price hikes, two in three (65%) place a lot of the blame on the oil companies. This is a larger proportion than felt this way in 2005 (58%), after prices spiked above the $2 per gallon level in the summer of that year.

About half of the state’s voters (46%) also fault the Bush Administration’s policies a lot for the runup in gas prices. Another 37% place a lot of the blame on foreign countries producing the oil and 29% fault Americans who drive vehicles using a lot of gasoline.

These are the main findings from the latest Field Poll of California voters about gasoline prices completed late last month.

Seriousness of the gasoline price increase
The large majority of California voters – 70% – see the recent gasoline price increases as a very serious (35%) or somewhat serious (35%) matter. This compares to just 29% who say the price increases are not serious.

People at the lower end of the income scale and younger Californians under age 40 are more likely than others to describe the increase as very serious.

The current findings are similar to those found in the summer of 2005 when gas prices last took a big jump.

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Many forced to make cutbacks in other areas
Nearly half (44%) report that because of the recent run-up in gas prices, they’ve had to cut back in other areas of spending, such as food, clothing or dining out.

Those making less than $40,000 report this to a much larger extent than those with higher incomes.

In addition, disproportionately more people in the 18-39 age group and those living in Southern California report being affected by the price increases.

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Who is to blame?
Two in three Californians (65%) attribute a lot of the blame for higher gas prices to the oil companies. This is greater than the 58% who faulted the oil companies during the last spike in gasoline prices two years ago.

Large segments of the public (46%) also cast a lot of blame on the Bush Administration for the increase, while another 37% feel oil producing countries are the cause.

A smaller proportion (29%) places a lot of the blame on Americans who drive vehicles that use a lot of gasoline.

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See Related: FIELD REPORT

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