Gallup: 52% say ANWR must remain pristine; Update: McCain's ANWR "rethink" debunked

Caveat: The data’s a month old. Second caveat: 57% are ready to drill in other off-limits areas, including 56% of independents. Third caveat: Rasmussen’s more recent data is 10 points higher on the subtopic of offshore drilling, which probably means opinion on ANWR has shifted somewhat too. Perhaps, unlike Maverick, America’s willingness to re-examine its position isn’t just lip service?

Oh, fourth caveat: Members of the party that’ll control Congress next year and very possibly the White House oppose drilling in either coastal of wilderness “off-limits” areas by a 20-point margin.

Update: As it happens, Patrick Ishmael of News Buckit was at the event today where McCain was pressed about ANWR and says the whole thing is overblown. From his e-mail:

For what it’s worth, I was at the town hall, and my take was that McCain was mostly restating his opposition to drilling ANWR while deploying some tact toward a direct (but polite) questioner. So, imagine a situation where the government would be willing to drill in the Grand Canyon for oil, and that’s the situation, and presumably the only situation, where McCain would drill in ANWR. Unlikely, but still a (technically) open question. Sort of an “anything can happen but probably won’t” exception.

The questioner, who was allowed to ask the event’s only follow-up a few minutes later, wasn’t especially pleased by the response, but McCain was pretty firm on his position: that off-shore drilling was on the table, but that drilling ANWR really wasn’t.