According to the results of a recent Harris Poll, Americans are placing a higher priority on energy policy than environmental policy in deciding which candidate to vote for. Here are the details.
* Harris Interactive surveyed 2,562 adults online between Sept. 17 and 24, 2012.
* Overall, 77 percent of respondents to the poll rated energy policy as either very important or important when asked which policies contribute most to their support of one candidate over another.
* 67 percent of respondents found environmental policy to be important or very important. Environmental policy was the least influential in Americans' presidential choice, Harris found.
* The gap in importance between energy and environmental policy grows according to age, Harris Interactive reported, with energy policy holding only a 3 percent advantage over environmental policy, 66 to 63 percent, for Americans between the ages of 18-35.
* Among 36-47 year olds, the gap in the importance of energy policy as compared to environmental policy increased to 10 percentage points, 74-64 percent. The gap grew 13 points among 48-66 year olds and 90 percent of those 67 and older found energy policy important in choosing a president, compared to 74 percent who placed importance on a candidate's environmental policy.
* Harris Interactive found that 48 percent of Americans most often identify nuclear power as an energy source that is harmful or very harmful to the environment, with clean coal being considered harmful or very harmful.
* Fewer than a fourth of Americans believe that natural gas is either harmful or very harmful. Another 40 percent rate it as "not that harmful" while nearly 20 percent believe it is not at all harmful to the environment.
* Thirty-one percent of the respondents to the Harris poll stated that the potential benefits of natural gas hydraulic fracturing -- known as "fracking" -- outweigh the risks. Thirty-two percent believe the risks outweigh the benefits. Thirty-eight percent stated that they are unsure and that more education is needed on the fracking process and its implications.
* While both energy and environmental policies were regarded as less influential in deciding on a candidate than the economy, tax, jobs, healthcare and foreign policies, Harris Interactive Vice President and Senior Consultant Sarah Simmons stated that energy remains an important policy to Americans.
* "Even after the election is over," Simmons said, "energy will remain an important subject for Americans because it is also central to so many other policies, especially economic, jobs and environmental policies."
* Energy pricing has a significant impact on families, Simmons added, as it involves the price paid at the pump, the ability of businesses to increase the workforce, its influence on the nation's economic health and way of life.
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