Energy

Hurricanes and Gasoline Prices Were the Energy Stories That Captured Voters’ Attention Most in 2022

7 in 10 registered voters said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about Hurricane Ian’s destruction in Florida

Graphic conveying natural disasters specifically Hurricane Ian
(Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Kelly Rice)

This article is part of our annual Seen Read Heard project measuring real-time media consumption of over 800 news events among more than 200,000 Americans. See our interactive for a curated list of the newsworthy developments of 2022, including many that resonated deeply with Americans — and some that didn’t.

Read More Seen Read Heard Coverage: Series Home Page | Analyzing The News That Broke Through 2022 | Global: Ukraine War Dominates 2022’s Global Headlines | Economics: Inflation News | Health: COVID-19 News Strong But Roe v. Wade Captures Most Interest

As Hurricane Ian barreled into southwestern Florida, causing the second-largest insured loss on record and costing between $50 billion and $65 billion, voters were paying especially close attention. According to an analysis of regular Morning Consult and Politico surveys, the late-September storm was the energy news event this year that the electorate said they had seen, read or heard the most about. 

Voters were also tuned into stories about rising gas prices, most notably in late September, when prices started climbing again. Out of the 20 most-followed energy stories this year, six were about the rise and fall of gasoline prices.

Hurricane Ian’s Landfall in Florida Was the Most-Followed Energy Story of 2022

The share of voters who heard “a lot” about the following energy news items:

Surveys conducted on a weekly basis throughout 2022 among a representative sample of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Hurricanes and the rise and fall of gas prices topped energy headlines in 2022

  • Hurricane Ian made landfall in southwestern Florida on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, just short of achieving Category 5 status. Ian’s catastrophic storm surges of up to 18 feet were the focus of many headlines during that time, and 70% of U.S. voters said they had heard “a lot” about the hurricane, as the death toll totaled at least 148 in Florida, mainly from drowning. More than 4 million customers also lost power in the state as the storm passed through. 
  • Before Ian, Hurricane Fiona devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as the first major hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season, making landfall on Sept. 18 as a Category 1 storm. Millions of residents were left without power and drinking water for days following the storm’s impact, which also caused devastating flooding. Fiona didn’t garner as much attention as Hurricane Ian, as only 32% of voters said they had heard “a lot” about the storm. 
  • Stories that addressed gasoline prices were also highly consumed. Almost half of voters heard about rising gas prices in late September, following a long summer of high gasoline prices. Stories about average prices falling below the $4 per gallon mark were seen, read or heard “a lot” by nearly a third of voters during the second week of August. 
  • Other stories about policies that sought to tame gasoline prices were top reads earlier in the year. President Joe Biden’s plan to release up to 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was seen, read or heard by 1 in 4 voters in March. An equal share of voters heard a lot about Biden’s announcement in October that the administration would release the last 15 million barrels of oil from the planned 180 million barrel release.

While hurricanes commanded the attention of voters this year, U.S. adults overall have become less concerned with the impact of natural disasters on their community, according to Morning Consult data. About 30% of adults said they were “very concerned” about that impact as of the end of November, down 6 percentage points from a year ago. 

Voters’ engagement in 2022 with stories about changing fuel costs that affect their daily lives, meanwhile, was something that remained comparable with last year’s coverage of top news. 

Surveys conducted on a weekly basis throughout 2022 among a representative sample of roughly 2,000 registered voters each, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.