By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — Despite already paying record high gas prices last month, most Americans expect prices to get even worse, a new poll shows.
Rasmussen Reports released the poll, which found that 59% of those surveyed say it is “very likely they’ll be paying even more for a gallon of gas in six months than they are today.”
That comes after gas prices hit record highs this year, topping $5 per gallon for regular gas nationwide in June before dipping down to its current national average of $4.80. Diesel also hit a record high in June before slightly decreasing.
In California Tuesday, the average was $6.24 a gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. Santa Barbara County’s average was $6.22 a gallon.
“The past six months have seen a dramatic increase in gasoline prices, most Americans expect the cost to continue rising,” Rasmussen said. “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 89% of American Adults say they’re paying more for a gallon of gas today compared to six months ago, and 78% think it’s likely those prices will continue to climb over the next six months.”
The poll comes at the same time that the Monmouth University Polling Institute released a new poll showing that Americans are feeling the pain of those gas prices, as well as inflation, which also has soared in recent months.
“The number of Americans who are financially struggling has increased by double digits in the past year as inflation and gas prices top the list of problems faced by the nation’s families,” Monmouth said.
The poll found that even those earning above average salaries are struggling.
“More than 4 in 10 Americans (42%) say they are struggling to remain where they are financially,” the group said. “This is the first time since Monmouth started asking the question five years ago that the number topped 3 in 10 — the range in prior polls was 20% to 29%. Just under half (47%) say their current financial situation is basically stable, and only 9% say it is improving.”
The poll found that the number of those surveyed who report they are struggling has jumped from 24% to 42% in one year and is impacting all income brackets.
“Currently, reports of struggling financially come from 58% of those earning under $50,000 (up 18 points from June 2021), 35% of those earning $50,000-$100,000 (up 15 points), and 28% of those earning over $100,000 (up 18 points),” the group said.
Inflation and gas prices dwarf other concerns for Americans, even controversial topics like abortion, which is only ranked as a top concern for 5% of Americans.
“Inflation and gas prices are the top two family concerns across a wide variety of demographic groups, including income, race, and partisan identity,” the group said. “Inflation as a top concern emerged in Monmouth’s July 2021 poll at 5% and then grew to 14% in December, before more than doubling in the current poll. The current poll is also the first time that gas prices are mentioned by more than a handful of Americans as their predominant issue.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.