While the public wasn’t enamored of BP in the early stages of the oil spill, opinions have turned even more negative as the well has continued to gush.
Ten percent of respondents to Zogby International polling in mid-June gave BP’s response positive ratings, down from 14 percent in early June and 16 percent in late May. Similarly, 9 percent of respondents to a late-June Rasmussen Reports poll gave “excellent” or “good” reviews to the performance of companies associated with the spill in the way they’ve dealt with it. That’s down from 29 percent in early May, when the story was getting going.
Despite its advertising and PR efforts, BP has yet to convince Americans it’ll make good on its commitments to deal with the consequences of the spill. In The Economist/YouGov polling in mid-June, respondents were asked how much trust they have in BP “to do the right thing in stopping the oil spill and cleaning it up.” Fewer than one-fifth expressed “a great deal” of trust (6 percent) or “quite a bit” (13 percent). Twenty-four percent said they have “only some” trust in BP to do this. Half said they have either “very little” (24 percent) or “none at all” (27 percent).
Distrust of BP is vividly evident in a mid-June CBS News/New York Times poll. One of its questions asked, “When BP executives talk about the oil spill, do you think they are telling the truth, mostly telling the truth but hiding something, or are they mostly lying?” The bulk of the vote was split between mostly-truth-but-hiding-something (57 percent) and mostly-lying (27 percent).
The Economist/YouGov polling yielded mixed news for BP when it asked respondents whether they’d “support or oppose a movement among drivers to boycott BP gas stations due to the spill.” Thirty percent said they’d support such a movement, including 17 percent who’d support it “strongly.” Thirty-four percent would be opposed (including 25 percent strongly). The rest said they’d neither support nor oppose such an action.
Support for a boycott of BP gas stations was particularly high among the 18-29-year-olds in this Economist/YouGov survey, with 20 percent supporting it strongly and 18 percent somewhat. The 65-plusers were the least worked up, with 15 percent strongly and 11 percent somewhat favoring a boycott, vs. 36 percent were strongly opposed.
Though Americans take an especially dim view of BP these days, they’re hardly big fans of other major oil companies. In Rasmussen’s recent polling on the topic, fewer than half had a favorable opinion of Shell (9 percent very, 38 percent somewhat), Exxon (10 percent very, 31 percent somewhat) or Chevron (11 percent very, 32 percent somewhat).
This general distaste for the oil industry is a recurring theme in consumer surveys, usually because of gas prices. In the current CBS News/New York Times poll, just 2 percent of respondents said they trust oil companies “a lot” to “act in the best interest of the public.” Another 24 percent trust the companies “some” to do this. Thirty-six percent trust them “not much” and 38 percent “not at all.”
Meanwhile, Americans aren’t tiring of the oil-spill story, to judge by another of the Rasmussen findings. In its most recent poll, 59 percent said they’re “very closely” following news reports about the matter, pretty much where the number has been during the past two months.
BP’s agreement to set aside $20 billion to pay damages may have bought the company a bit of goodwill: In one of the few bits of positive polling data for the company, 60 percent of Zogby’s respondents voiced confidence that BP “will actually make good on its pledge to pay the full amount in claims.”
See also: “Dawn’s Oil Spill Cleanup Spot Is Most Effective Ad”