Energy

About 7 in 10 Voters Say They Would Back a Federal Gas Tax Holiday

Democrats are more likely to support a gas tax holiday than Republicans, though not by much

Gasoline prices are displayed at a Mobil gas station on Feb. 08, 2022, in Los Angeles, Calif. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

As gas prices continue to ratchet up, the White House and Democratic lawmakers are weighing a suspension of the federal gas tax in a bid to provide drivers with some relief. New Morning Consult/Politico data found that the proposal is a very popular one, with nearly 7 in 10 registered voters saying they would support a temporary break.  

The proposed federal gas tax suspension, which would last through Jan. 1, 2023, was introduced by six Senate Democrats, four of whom are facing re-election in November. 

And it comes as tensions mount in Eastern Europe, as Russia encroaches upon Ukraine and a full-scale invasion seems imminent. Russia is among the world’s largest producers and exporters of crude oil, and the potential for conflict has roiled fuel markets. 

Nearly 7 in 10 Voters Would Support a Federal Gas Tax Holiday

Respondents were asked if they would support or oppose a break from federal gas taxes (18.4 cents/gallon) until the end of 2022

Survey conducted Feb. 19-21, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

What the numbers say

  • Asked if they support or oppose a break from federal gasoline taxes (18.4 cents per gallon) through the end of the year, 68 percent of voters said they support it (42 percent “strongly” and 26 percent “somewhat”). Just 16 percent are in opposition (8 percent “strongly” and 8 percent “somewhat”). 
  • While many Biden administration proposals elicit a wide partisan divide when it comes to voter support, a gas tax holiday is backed by majorities in both parties: 74 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans, as well as 62 percent of independent voters. 
  • Asked whom they would blame for future rising gas prices in the United States — which could be worsened in part by the escalation of Russian aggression toward Ukraine — 58 percent of voters said President Joe Biden would be “very” or “somewhat” responsible, and 76 percent said Russian President Vladimir Putin would be responsible. 
  • According to the latest data from Morning Consult’s Taking the Temperature project, the share of voters who are “very concerned” about the current price of gasoline hit a new high of 53 percent in recent weeks, up from a low of 38 percent last September. A larger share, 61 percent, say they are very concerned about the future price of gasoline.  

The impact

While the potential political gains from a gas tax break in the short term may seem straightforward, things are slightly more complicated for the Biden administration. First, some senior officials are reportedly concerned about the potential backlash of an abrupt increase in prices upon the holiday’s end, while others are worried it might benefit gas producers more than consumers themselves.

And certain Democratic lawmakers and transportation groups are raising major qualms with the potential consequences of a pause on the gas tax, saying it would leave holes in the country’s infrastructure budget and potentially hamper the Biden administration’s rollout of its signature achievements. The gas tax generates money for the federal trust that supports highway, tunnel and bridge projects.

This comes as the White House anticipates that gas prices will surge even further amid Russia’s amplified hostility toward Ukraine. Officials are reportedly considering a release of crude oil from the government’s strategic oil reserves as an option for providing drivers with relief from a potential global energy shock.      

 

The Feb. 19-21, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Morning Consult