Photo: Jose C Silva

Yesterday, Think Progress reported a national poll by Rasmussen indicating that “in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico… support for offshore drilling has ‘fallen dramatically’.” Today, they follow up by noting a Mason-Dixon poll which shows that “55 percent of Floridians now oppose offshore oil drilling, a complete reversal from polling conducted last year.”

Superficially, that seems encouraging, and expected as well.  But, wait — also today, we have Daily Kos reporting the results of a Research 2000 poll that shows 60 percent of respondents across the U.S. favoring increased offshore drilling… and adding, “Even among Democrats, a slight plurality continues to favor increasing offshore drilling (49-45).”

What’s going on here?   Can that many Americans really have responded to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf by saying, “Crap, we’d better drill offshore somewhere else so we can replace that oil”?!?

Unfortunately, the answer is at least partially yes.  The results of the Research 2000 poll aren’t really that different from the Rasmussen national survey, which showed 58 percent of respondents continuing to support offshore drilling — it’s just that even those numbers were a sharp decline from the 74 percent(!) in favor of drilling a month earlier, when President Obama stupidly proposed ending a ban on it.

Maybe all of those 16 percent or so of American who changed their views live along the coast in places like Florida (or California, Texas, etc.).  For everybody else, it seems to be that as long as the oil doesn’t wash up directly in their backyard, it’s not that much of a problem.