A recent telephone poll conducted with 1,000 American adults showed 56 percent think it is more likely that oil companies will use the news from Iraq as an excuse to raise gas prices, but 33 percent believe gas prices will be driven up by real oil shortages caused by the continuing political unrest there.


Sixty-eight percent said they are paying more for a gallon of gas compared to six months ago, while 3 percent say they are paying less and 23 percent reported paying about the same amount.


Looking ahead six months, 85 percent said it is at least somewhat likely they will be paying more for a gallon of gas than they are paying today, including 63 percent who say it’s very likely, while just 8 percent say it’s not very or not at all likely they will be paying more for gas in six months.


Americans have repeatedly questioned the pricing practices of the major oil companies over the years, but government investigations have never found a systematic pattern of price gouging.


Seventy-seven percent expect to pay that amount in the next few months, including 48 percent who say that is very likely, while 14 percent don’t expect the average price of gas to rise above $4 a gallon.