As oil from its busted well continues gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, BP appears to be no better at managing public opinion than it is at stopping the spill.
Polling in recent days by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds fewer than one-quarter of respondents rating BP's response to the leak as "excellent" (5 percent) or "good" (19 percent), while a majority termed it "only fair" (36 percent) or "poor" (27 percent). Thirteen percent weren't sure.
One small consolation for the company is that opinion isn't much better of the job the federal government is doing in response to the oil spill. Four percent of respondents rated the federal response as "excellent," 29 percent as "good," 35 percent as "only fair" and 19 percent as "poor."
Fifty-five percent of those polled said they regard the oil spill as "a major environmental disaster," with another 37 percent classifying it as "a serious environmental problem, but not a disaster." But there's a surprising degree of optimism that efforts to control the spill will ultimately succeed: 51 percent said they believe "efforts to control the spill and prevent it from spreading further" will be successful, vs. 29 percent expecting they'll be unsuccessful.
A majority of respondents still favor allowing more offshore drilling for oil in U.S. waters, but the 54 percent now holding that opinion is down sharply from the 68 percent voicing it last April. Then again, there has also been a significant decline in the proportion who favor more funding for alternative energy -- 82 percent then, 73 percent now.
Respondents split almost evenly on the question of whether such oil spills are "unavoidable if the U.S. is going to get an adequate supply of energy." Forty-one percent think spills are unavoidable, while 45 percent think they aren't.See also: "Experts: BP Can Get Past Crisis"