Editor's note: Online polls do not use scientific methods. Results should not be considered accurate or reliable but can be seen as rough indications of public opinion.
If the response to two recent polls on The Marshall Democrat-News Web site is any indication, high gasoline prices are starting to have an effect on the lives of Saline Countians and they do not anticipate any relief soon.
In a poll that was available from Friday, May 23, to Tuesday, May 27, readers were asked, "Will your Memorial Day weekend travel plans be affected by high gas prices?"
Of 150 responses, less than 20 percent (29 votes) said gas prices would make no difference, they planned to travel regardless.
Fewer people -- 11.3 percent (17 votes) -- said they would travel but planned to cut back the length of their trips.
The vast majority -- nearly 70 percent (104 votes) -- indicated they would stay home over the holiday weekend, which typically serves as the launch of the summer travel season.
Gas prices have risen 60 cents per gallon in the six weeks since mid-April, going from $3.19 on Wednesday, April 16, to a peak of $3.79 on Tuesday, May 27, before falling back to $3.69 at most stations Wednesday, May 28, where they remain Friday, May 30.
That trend and gloomy predictions by energy industry prognosticators seems to have convinced readers that the end of rising prices is not yet in sight.
In a poll that was available from Tuesday, May 27, through Friday, May 30, only 2.4 percent of the respondents selected the option of "(Gas prices) have topped out now."
By mid-morning Friday, 341 responses had been made, with predictions of where prices will peak as follows:
--$4: 8.8 percent (30 votes),
--$4.25: 19.1 percent (65 votes)
--$4.50: 16.7 percent (57 votes)
--$4.75: 6.2 percent (21 votes)
--$5: 15.2 percent (52 votes)
A plurality of voters was even more pessimistic. Opting for "The sky's the limit" were 31.7 percent (108 votes).
"It is very scary when I think of what the future brings. I might need to buy a pair of horses to pull my van when it's all said and done," said one respondent.
Another respondent lamented the country's inability to develop new sources of oil in recent years.
"Since the environamenalists didn't let us drill for oil for so many years -- it will take some time for us to get our process underway -- glad we have ethanol to take up some of the slack," the person said.
One person noted the market role in the price increase: "This about supply and demand: supply is dropping and worldwide demand is increasing. Prices will likely be $7 a gallon in summer of 2009."
An expert quoted in a recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review news story about the market forces creating the price spike noted the same thing.
"Global demand for crude oil continues to increase. Demand has to slow, to respond to price," said Mary Novak, managing director for energy at consulting firm Global Insight in Lexington, Mass.
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