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Gas Prices on Mind of Primary Voters

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

We heard Don Gonyea mention high gas prices there. And the price at the pump is very much on the minds of voters in Indiana as well.

Our co-host Michele Norris was traveling across Indiana today.

MICHELE NORRIS, host.

Here in Indiana, the Howey-Gauge Poll released today found that rising gas prices are now a key issue driving voter's decisions. Michael Davis is the president of Gauge Research.

Mr. MICHAEL DAVIS (President, Gauge Market Research): There are a good group of voters out there that are just scared of what they're seeing in this country right now - for example, gasoline prices. We did our statewide poll back in February, 1 percent. Today, gasoline prices registers at 12 percent as the top-of-mind issue amongst voters. And those voters are very interested in coming out to vote. They…

NORRIS: We talked with voters today as they filled up their tanks. Our first stop was in Greenwood just outside of Indianapolis.

Mr. MATT JOHNSON(ph) (Resident, Indiana): My name is Matt Johnson and I'm a finance rep. And I drive about 40 minutes to work every day and 40 minutes back.

NORRIS: Johnson hasn't settled on a candidate yet, but when he does, gas prices will be a top issue.

Mr. JOHNSON: I'll say it's in the top three, definitely. For me, I always - because I have to drive so far to work.

NORRIS: So are you driving less? Are you doing other things, cutting down on things, to make up for the money that you're paying for gas?

Mr. JOHNSON: I try to make stops on my way home, or at lunch I can walk to the grocery and get a few things. I don't like to drive that much so I try to avoid it at all costs.

NORRIS: Matt Johnson would like to trade his Ford Explorer for a smaller car, but he says no one's buying SUVs these days. He spent $68 on gas this morning. And with that long commute, to and from Bloomington, he'll likely be back at the pump by Thursday.

(Soundbite of traffic)

NORRIS: A few miles down the road in the town of Waverly, a BP station is just off State Road 37.

Ms. GEMMA MOGERMAN(ph) (Resident, Indiana): My name is Gemma Mogerman, and I actually drive pretty much around town, but I go up to Indianapolis quite a bit to see family. And I have a brother that I pick up there at the university hospital.

NORRIS: Okay, we've got the pump going there. Gas today is $3.59 a gallon.

Ms. MOGERMAN: Three fifty-nine for regular. That's pretty high, don't you think?

NORRIS: Mogerman said she's supporting John McCain, in part because she likes his plan for relief at the gas pump.

Ms. MOGERMAN: For a long time there's been a lot of excuses, and I think the candidates need to step up to the plate and really fight for America. We need to really look at the ability that America has. I'm just really hoping that this time around that we'll really have someone who really will look for the resources right here in the United States of America.

NORRIS: Patrick Gratehouse(ph) is also at the BP to top off his tank with just a few gallons. He heard that gas prices might be on the rise again.

Mr. PATRICK GRATEHOUSE (Resident, Indiana): I design insulations so I drive everyday. I sometimes fill my tank up everyday.

NORRIS: You have a big primary coming up here in Indiana. Of all the things that - all the issues that you weigh as you make a decision…

Mr. GRATEHOUSE: Mm-hmm.

NORRIS: …where do gas prices rank?

Mr. GRATEHOUSE: Well, last summer, the gas prices went down for the summer here in Indiana. This year, I don't think it's going to go down. I think they're going to sit there and keep pushing it up until somebody offers a solution, and they're probably pointing at one of the candidates going, who's going to make a decision, you know, and who's going to make the promise.

NORRIS: And right now, all the candidates are promising to bring relief at the pump.

I'm Michele Norris along State Road 37 in Indiana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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