By nearly a two-to-one margin California voters are opposed to more offshore oil/natural gas drilling in state lands along the 1,000-mile coast, a Field Poll showed last Friday. The results represent a big increase in the negative sentiment compared to two years ago.

In addition, the latest poll by Field Research Corp. showed increased division regarding the building of new nuclear power plants in the state.

“At present opponents of allowing more offshore drilling outnumber supporters 61% to 31%,” the Field Poll’s latest results showed, compared with a 51-43% spread (opposition vs. support) in 2008. The latest Field Poll showed 48% voter support for building more nuclear power plants, with 44% opposed.

The survey was conducted between June 22 and July 5 among a representative sample of the state’s registered voters.

Since 1990 the percentage of registered voters supporting more offshore drilling trended up from 32% to the 43% level reached two years ago, and the percentages of those opposed to more drilling were shrinking (62% to 51%), the Field Poll’s Mark DiCamillo said. All of that flip-flopped in the latest poll, with the opposition shooting back up to 61% of those polled.

For the nuclear plant issue, at various times in the past 35 years Californians have supported building more nuclear generation plants by wide margins. This is no longer the case, and there is a distinct partisan political element now with backers of Democratic candidates being solidly opposed to more nuclear plants and the Republican candidates’ backers strongly supporting more nuclear plants.

In 1976, before the Three-Mile Island nuclear plant disaster, the Field Poll turned up a pro-nuclear sentiment running 69%. After Three-Mile Island the anti-nuclear sentiment reached its peak, with 61% of voters opposing nuclear power, DiCamillo said. By 2001 and the state’s energy crisis, voters favoring more nukes hit 59% again. That has dropped steadily in the past decade.

On partisan lines, 54% of Democrats are against more nuclear plants, while 66% of Republican candidate-backers support more nuclear facilities. Nonpartisans divide more narrowly, with 48% opposing new nuclear facilities.

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