Go Nukes!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 15 2011 8:09 AM

Go Nukes!

I talked to politicos yesterday to understand why , unless the situation in Japan gets worse than we can imagine, it won't slow our march toward more reactor licenses. One interesting thing I found: This poll from 1979, when according to popular memory the tide started to turn against nuclear power.

But Americans were less panicked about Three Mile Island than most people remember. A few weeks after the disaster, the Washington Post conducted a national poll on new opinions of nuclear power and compared them to a 1976 Gallup Poll. In 1976, 34 percent of Americans had said it was "very important" to build more power plants, and 37 percent said it was "somewhat important." In the 1979 poll, conducted after weeks of news about the nuclear danger, 29 percent of people went with "very important," and 36 went with "somewhat." Thirteen million curies of radioactive gas had driven the polling numbers down by only six points.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.