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Gas Prices Seriously Impact Quality of Life

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Oct. 20, 2005 -- According to a national poll conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute, gas prices are seriously impacting the quality of life in America.

   * Over three-quarters of all respondents, 77.6%, indicated that recent
     gasoline price increases are very seriously (42.3%) or somewhat
     seriously (35.3%) impacting their own quality of life. This is an
     increase from 71.3% recorded in April 2005.

   * Over half of all Americans surveyed, 55.8%, indicated they will travel
     less this coming holiday season as a direct result of higher gasoline
     prices. Another 37.4% suggested they would not travel less and 6.8%
     were unsure. In April 2005, 43.5% of those surveyed said they would
     travel less over the summer of 2005.

   * Americans are using their credit cards to pay for gas much more
     frequently today than a year ago. One-third (31.2%) of respondents who
     have a car, truck or SUV said they are using credit cards to pay for
     gas more frequently today than they were one year ago as a result of
     higher prices.

   * Increasing numbers of Americans surveyed are reporting their next car
     will be smaller and more gas-efficient. Among those currently owning a
     car, 56.0% now report their next car will be smaller and more gas-
     efficient -- up from 45.7% in April 2005.

   * 45.2% of those who will purchase a new car will consider a "hybrid"
     vehicle, while 38.0% suggest they will not consider the new "hybrids."

According to John Gerlach, associate professor in the Economics and Finance Department at Sacred Heart University, "The new survey clearly shows that the continuation of high gas prices is forcing Americans to change their life style.

"More of us are also planning to buy more fuel-efficient cars than was the case five months ago, and the sales of large SUVs have already declined from their highs of a year ago. This is not good news for U.S. auto makers, who have relied on the sales of these vehicles to offset losses on their automobiles.

"Given the continuation of high gas prices and the outlook for more of the same (not to mention higher home heating costs this winter), it is not surprising that a growing number of Americans feel that their quality of life is being negatively impacted. And it may very well get worse in the next six months."

Jerry Lindsley, director of the Polling Institute, commented that, "spiraling gas and home heating oil prices may be the 'stealth issue' that will impact the careers of incumbent elected officials in '06 and possibly '08 as much as they are impacting Americans' quality of life. With our survey showing the President's approval rating down to 42% positive and recent ratings of Congress down to 29% positive -- it may be 'incumbents beware.' Consumer anger may impact both political parties alike if they don't get it together on this quality-of-life issue."

On Reducing the Impact of Higher Gasoline Prices ...

Researchers asked respondents if they supported or opposed a number of suggestions/strategies some have offered to reduce the impact of higher gasoline prices ...

   * A large majority, 79.5%, strongly or somewhat support allowing the
     Federal Government to permit new oil refineries throughout the United
     States as needed.

   * More than two-thirds, 68.4%, strongly or somewhat support allowing
     expanded drilling for oil in places such as Utah, Alaska and Colorado.

   * Over half of all respondents, 57.4%, noted they strongly or somewhat
     support lowering highway speed limits to 55 miles per hour.

   * However, 63.8% said they strongly or somewhat oppose adding 20 cents
     per gallon in Federal gasoline tax to support research on energy
     alternatives. One-third, 31.2%, were in support.


   * John Gerlach, associate professor in the Economics and Finance
     Department of Sacred Heart University's College of Business.

   * Jerry Lindsley, Director, Sacred Heart University Polling Institute

To speak with these experts, please contact Funda Alp at 203-396-8241 or

How the Poll Was Conducted

The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute completed 1,000 interviews with residents nationwide between October 3-12, 2005. The sample was generated proportional to population contribution in all 50 states. Statistically, a sample of 1,000 completed telephone interviews represents a margin for error of +/-3.0% at a 95% confidence level.

About Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University is the first Catholic university in the United States to be led and staffed by lay people. Located in Fairfield, Connecticut, SHU is the second-largest Catholic university in New England. With over 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students, SHU has experienced two-fold enrollment growth during the past 10 years due to outstanding academic programs in business, education, liberal arts and health sciences. SHU is a Division-I member of the NCAA. Visit our website at:

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