Despite spill, most Americans back offshore drilling

Smoke billows from a controlled burn of spilled oil off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico coast line June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Sean Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most Americans still support offshore drilling and believe it is critical to making the U.S. competitive, despite the growing oil spill along the Gulf coast, a new poll showed on Wednesday.

In response to the oil spill, the Obama administration has canceled leasing offshore tracts for drilling that was planned off Virginia and the western Gulf of Mexico, and imposed a six-month moratorium on drilling exploratory and development wells in waters deeper than 500 feet.

In a national survey of 522 adults, on a scale of 0 to 10, the average show of support was 6.3 when asked if the government should allow offshore drilling.

The poll was conducted by the market research company TRC.

Not surprising, the response was higher among Republicans, 7.8, compared to 5.4 for Democrats.

Zero indicated complete disagreement and 10 reflected complete agreement.

The average response was 6.7 when those surveyed were asked if offshore drilling was critical for America to maintain its competitiveness.

Republicans again agreed more with a response of 8.2 than Democrats who averaged 5.8.

Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid