An Auto-Suggested Crisis

If the energy crisis were a brand, you’d envy it for grabbing share of mind so quickly. Respondents to a CBS News survey put it atop a list of problems they want the feds to solve, though just 46 percent feel “the shortage of energy they are hearing about is real.” Polling by the Pew Research Center for the People& the Press (excerpted in the chart) finds Americans edgy about various aspects of the issue. But it’s telling that they’d sooner meander around town seeking cheap gas than consider buying a car that uses less. Nor do they expect their compatriots to conserve. In a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 75 percent said “most Americans pretty much take energy supplies for granted.” (You can guess whether those folks count themselves among “mostAmericans.”) While two-thirds of CBS News’ respondents fear they may suffer blackouts like California’s, gasoline is the issue that really gets Americans worked up. In the Pew survey, 49 percent said gasoline prices already have been “a serious problem” for them.