“Public aversion to the term likely results from the harsh consonants and perhaps the obvious similarity to a certain other four letter word,” said Michael Climek. “And this research shows that the unpleasant sound of the word is at least partially responsible for residents thinking ‘fracking’ is unsafe and that it should not be pursued by the state of Louisiana. If businesses and legislators use another word or description, constituents may be more willing to support hydraulic fracturing.”
Roughly half of the respondents to the survey were given the questions with the word “fracking” included. The other half of respondents were given the exact same questions but instead substituted a description of the hydraulic fracturing process that did not include the word “fracturing” or “fracking.”
Because respondents were randomly placed into these groups, Climek said, it is likely that any differences in public perceptions are due specifically to differences in question wording. Interestingly, regardless of how the question was worded, roughly equal percentages said they had heard a lot or some about hydraulic fracturing (37.8 percent) or fracking (36.3 percent).
For respondents who heard the word “fracking:”
· 35 percent of think hydraulic fracturing is “somewhat safe” or “very safe”;
· 39 percent should think the state should encourage the process.
For respondents who heard a description but NOT the word “fracking:”
· 43 percent think hydraulic fracturing is “somewhat safe” or “very safe”;
· 52 percent should think the state should encourage the process.
“Given the contentious nature of this procedure and the dependence of both our state and the country on fuel sources, we believe that our findings are both relevant and important to
future discussions about the topic,” said Climek.
The annual Louisiana Survey, sponsored by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, was created to serve as a barometer of statewide public opinion. The 2012 Louisiana Survey results will be broken out into several sections in order to best disseminate its findings, and will be released throughout March and April 2012.
The overall survey includes 731 randomly selected respondents, including 517 landline telephone respondents and 214 cell phone respondents. The survey was conducted from Feb. 7 to Feb. 29 and has margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. Final results are weighted to reflect the most current population estimates available. A detailed copy of the results described in this release and a discussion of the methodology can be obtained at www.survey.lsu.edu.