The survey, conducted by the Robert Morris University Polling Institute, showed that of the people who had an opinion about fracking one way or the other, 56 percent supported it, while 44 percent were against it.
Support among those whose who supported it remained constant even for fracking within the locality where they lived. When those who were polled received information about fracking in presentations from environmental and energy groups, the number who strongly supported fracking was 42 percent, compared with 33 percent somewhat or strongly against it.
The remaining 25 percent were not sure how they felt about fracking. Of those with an opinion of fracking, 80 percent believe the practice has the potential to help the country’s economy, and 74 percent said fracking is helping the country to move toward energy dependence.
However, nearly 60 percent said the environmental impact of gas drilling outweighs energy independence or any reduced energy costs that may result. For years, attitudes from those polled were critical of fracking, particularly when fracking was conducted in one’s own town.
The numbers in the new poll clearly represent a change in attitude, an assistant at the Robert Morris Institute said. “Just three years ago, where there was staunch opposition to fracking by many environmental groups, I think you would have been lucky to have a third of poll respondents in support of fracking,” Tony Kerzmann, assistant professor of engineering at RMU, said in a prepared statement on the Institute’s website.
Other polls this year appear to show that opinions regarding fracking are still in a state of flux, and regional differences remain.
For example, in June, more than 70 percent of 1,500 California residents polled were in favor of banning fracking, or enacting additional state regulations to ensure its safety, according to a poll jointly sponsored by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Lost Angeles Times and conducted by the Republican polling firm American Viewpoint and the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosener Research.
That poll showed substantial differences based on political party affiliation, with 62 percent of Republicans supporting fracking, and 52 percent of Democrats opposed to it, according to the newspaper Ventura County Star.
An earlier poll taken by 1,154 New York voters and released in February showed a near-even split between supporters of fracking, and those who were in opposition.
In that poll, given by the Siena Research Institute, 40 percent of those polled were in support of lifting the statewide moratorium on fracking, while 40 percent were against lifting the ban. The remaining 20 percent had no opinion.