Washington (CNN) - Most Americans say that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will personally affect them, and more than three quarters say they disapprove of how BP has handled the situation, according to a new poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday also indicates that a slight majority of the public disapproves of how the Obama administration's handling the spill.
Fifty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say the spill will affect them or their familes indirectly, with another 31 percent saying the spill affects them directly. Only 16 percent of people questioned say they and their families will not be affected by the spill.
"Although the spill is limited, for now, to one area, most Americans think its effects will ripple far beyond the Gulf states," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The number who say they will be directly affected by the spill is highest in the South, but about a third of people who live in the Northeast and Midwest also think they will be directly affected. That figure drops to 26 percent in the western states that are the furthest from the Gulf of Mexico."
The poll's release comes as a BP executive Monday defended his company's attempts to stop a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, amid growing frustration and suggestions that the federal government could take over the effort.
More than three quarters of people questioned in the survey say they disapprove of how BP has handled the spill, with 24 percent saying they approve of how the oil company has acted.
"One in four say they are less likely to buy gasoline from a BP station as a result of the spill," adds Holland. "But anger at BP doesn't let the federal government off the hook."
The Obama administration has come under increasing criticism in the past week for its handling of the spill. According to the poll, a slight majority, 51 percent, disapprove of how President Obama has handled the spill, with 46 percent approving of how the White House is dealing with the situation.
Fifty-three percent say the efforts to contain the spill will be unsuccessful, and six in ten are not confident that the government will be able to prevent another big oil spill in the future.
"A majority say they still support offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. But that figure is down 17 points since the days of "drill, baby, drill" during the 2008 presidential election, and the number who say they strongly favor drilling has dropped by nearly half," says Holland.
Since the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon in late April about 40 miles off Louisiana and its subsequent sinking, oil has been gushing into the Gulf at an estimated rate of about 5,000 barrels a day (210,000 gallons). Some estimates have put the amount of oil spewing from the well far higher.
Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead after the sinking. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.
Efforts to shut down the well have failed so far, though BP says it has been able to capture some of the escaping oil and pump it to a ship on the surface.
According to the survey, 55 percent of the public says the possibility of environmental damage as a result of offshore drilling is a very serious problem, with another 28 percent saying it is a somewhat serious problem.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 21-23, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report