Support for putting federal funds into alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydrogen has slipped to its lowest point in polls since 2006, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. The poll found that attitudes toward renewable energy is diverging based on affiliation with either the Republican or Democratic parties.  This divergence follows the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra and the congressional probe of the Obama administration’s loan-guarantee program for renewable energy ventures.

Renewable energy still remains more popular than traditional fossil fuels, with 68 percent of respondents in favor of federal backing for renewable energy.  However, this is a decline from the estimated eight in 10 Republicans and Democrats alike that favored federal spending on renewable energy from 2006 through early 2010.

Among Republicans or Republican-leaning independents, those in favor of funding for renewable energy has decreased to 53 percent, 30 percentage points lower than Democratic backing.  Republicans are also more broadly opposed to government investment in developing new energy technologies than they were at the beginning of the Obama administration.  Democratic support for federal spending on renewable energy remains at more than 80 percent.

Support for other forms of energy extraction remained less popular than renewables, but unchanged over the year.  Approximately 58 percent support federal funding for additional offshore oil and gas drilling and the same percentage favors more mining and drilling on federal land.

The survey also found that only 38 percent of respondents support providing subsidies for ethanol production.  In addition, respondents were less enthusiastic about backing nuclear energy at 39 percent with no resurgence in support since Pew reported declining support after the nuclear crisis in Japan following the earthquake there in the spring .