Pickens is Campaigning for Energy Independence
As the presidential campaign enters the home stretch, and the candidates continue hammering home their messages on the key issues of the day--among them, of course, energy independence and energy prices--it is easy to forget there's another wealthy and influential person who is campaigning for American energy independence as well. Unlike Senators Obama and McCain, however, this person isn't running for public office; rather, he is a wealthy oilman looking to make a lot of money in emerging energy markets--and help America in the process. We've been hearing a lot lately about T. Boone Pickens and his now famous Pickens Plan, which calls for producing 20% of America's electricity from wind energy, switching our auto fleet to natural gas and expanding offshore drilling. At the same time, Pickens has been using his considerable wealth to spread the message about his plan.
Much as Obama and McCain have been spending large sums of money to sway voters, Pickens has been trying to convince Americans about the efficacy of approach to energy independence. A new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows that the Pickens Plan may be effectively swaying public opinion.The Pickens Publicity Plan Appears to be Working
The poll, released today, found that "Sixty-five percent (65%) of American adults think it is at least somewhat likely that natural gas will be used to power automobiles in the next 10 years." What's interesting is that in January of '08, another Rasmussen poll found that "eventy-five percent (75%) of American adults believe that the U.S. Auto Industry is at least somewhat likely to develop an automobile that runs on something other than gasoline in the next ten years." That poll did not ask people what they thought would be the alternative to gasoline, but at the time there was not much talk about natural gas vehicles as the wave of the future. In fact, far more people were talking about hybrids, plug-in hybrids, pure-electrics and diesels.
I believe two things are influencing the new poll. First, high gas prices suddenly made natural gas vehicles far more attractive. That's because in many states, such as Utah, it is far cheaper to fill up the thank with natural gas than with gasoline. Second, all the talk of the Pickens Plan clearly influenced public opinion. Now I should emphasize that I don't have polling data that can specifically prove it, but given how unaware most Americans are of specific alternatives to gasoline, and given the amount of media attention the Pickens Plan (which is very focused on natural gas cars) has received, it stands to reason that the poll numbers are in large part explained by the ad campaign.