New Poll Shows More Than 60% of Californians Support Windfall Profits Cap On Oil Refiners

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More than six in ten California voters support a proposal to impose a windfall profits cap and price gouging rebate on oil refiners for the abnormally higher gas prices and profits in the state, according to a poll conducted for Consumer Watchdog by FM3 Research, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.

Governor Newsom issued a declaration late yesterday afternoon calling for a special legislative session on December 5th to enact a price gouging penalty and rebate for excessive profits.
Notably, 60% back the windfall cap proposal both before and after hearing arguments from proponents and opponents and roughly three in ten oppose it.   
Support for the proposal is broad-based among Democrats and nonpartisans, all regions of the state and all races and ethnicities.
View the topline resultsslides showing highlights of the cross tabs and a memo from the pollster.
“These poll results show Californians know they are being ripped off and they want government to do something about it,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “Governor Newsom has a strong mandate to demand a windfall profits cap from the legislature.”

Figure 1: Support/Oppose CA Oil Refinery Windfall Rebate/Profits Cap
Question Wording: “As you may know, Governor Newsom called a special session of the State Legislature to address the high price of gasoline in California.  During this special session, one proposal being considered by the Governor and others is (ASK SPLIT SAMPLE A: “a price gouging rebate”) (ASK SPLIT SAMPLE B ONLY: “a windfall profits cap”) on oil refineries in California when the price of gasoline reaches an abnormally high level in California and oil refiners post abnormally high profits.  Under this proposal, the state would set a limit on how much oil companies can profit from refining oil into gasoline, cap those profits and return these excess profits to taxpayers via rebates — potentially similar to those the state has begun depositing in millions of residents’ accounts this month.” (No statistically different voter response on split sample.)

Among the poll’s findings: 

  • The most robust support for an oil refinery windfall rebate/profits cap is among Democrats (86%); a majority of nonpartisans (56%) also favor, as do one in four Republicans (27%).  
  • Voters in all parts of the state support the proposal with the greatest support in LA and the Bay Area: LA (69%), Counties surrounding LA (59%), Bay Area (69%), San Diego (59%),  Sacramento/Rural North (55%), Central Valley/Central Coast (54%), Inland Empire (54%).
  • Voters of all ages approve of the proposal – support is strongest among voters ages 18 -29.
  • California voters of all races and ethnicities support a windfall profit tax: Whites (61%), Latinos (67%), African Americans (73%), Asians/Pacific Islanders (68%), All Voters of Color (67%).
  • Democratic women (87%) and men (85%) both support the proposal overwhelmingly, while Republican women are more supportive than their male counterparts.
  • Liberals (88%) and moderates (60%) overwhelmingly support the proposal.
  • Seven in ten renters and six in ten homeowners support the proposal.

The survey presented an equal number of arguments for and against the oil refinery windfall rebate/profits cap.  Statements in support were more impactful.  In particular, the most effective arguments identified the dramatic increase in oil companies’ profits over the past year and how prices have increased far beyond US gas prices.

Effective arguments include:

(Profits & Rebates) California oil refiners have typically made 32 cents per gallon in profits over the last 20 years, but this year they are making over $1 per gallon in profits—a 200% increase in profits. This price gouging rebate would cap profits over 50 cents per gallon and return it directly to drivers. (63%)

(CA PRICES) Californians pay much higher gas prices than the rest of the nation because oil companies intentionally manipulate supplies to drive up the price.  Nonpartisan, independent economic studies report that California’s environmental rules and taxes add 69 cents per gallon, but oil companies’ refineries are adding $2.50 per gallon—this outrageous price fixing costs us every time we fill up our tanks. (60%)

(PRICE GOUGING) This price gouging rebate will help to stop oil companies’ from manipulating the price of gas.  Big Oil’s 5 refineries control 97% of the gas pumped in California, which they have used to make billions in record profits while Californians struggle to fill their gas tanks and pay their bills. (56%)
The poll was conducted by FM3 Research, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, from October 22 – 27, 2022.  
FM3 interviewed 895 California voters likely to cast a ballot in the November 2022 election.  The respondents were contacted via email, text messaging and landline and cell phones with the interviews conducted online and with live interviewers. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.  The sample margin of error for the results is +/-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; the margin of error for population subgroups will be higher. View the cross tabs.


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