Eight in 10 residents of Mid-Atlantic states believe the ocean and beaches are important to their economies, including 95 percent of those living in coastal communities. This is according to a pair of surveys done by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and Urban Coast Institute.

Tony MacDonald, director of The Urban Coast Institute, says the surveys offer a glimpse of how views have changed since storms like Sandy and Irene have impacted the coast.

"I think the connection between the economy and the healthy ocean economy is clear to folks in the Mid-Atlantic whether it's fishing or ports or navigation or travel and tourism," says MacDonald.

— 81 percent of residents actually rated ocean environment an even higher priority than public education, says MacDonald.

— 83 percent of residents living in coast communities believe that climate change is real.

— Support for offshore oil and gas drilling plummeted from 46 percent in 2009 to 22 percent now among residents living closest to the coast.

— The surveys also find that 58 percent support placing electricity-generating windmills off the Atlantic Coast, while 10 percent oppose it.

Consistently across the polls, MacDonald says there is a lack of confidence in the government, mostly at the federal level but also at the state government. So most residents don't believe the governments are doing a good enough job.

About 59 percent believe the governments should be doing more to deal with the impacts of sea level rise, he says. It's also important to manage water quality. "Obviously if we have beach water quality issues in the summer, that's a huge economic impact," says MacDonald.

Residents are more concerned today about the threat of sea level rise and storm risks than in 2009, with 60 percent no saying it is a very serious concern. The increase as the highest among New Jersey residents (39 to 67 percent) followed by Delaware, Virginia, New York and Maryland.

MacDonald also says that since Sandy, we recognize that more people in this region believe in climate change. They think it's a significant issue and obviously the most direct impact that they expressed concern about is sea level rise.

Only 27 percent say the government is doing an excellent or good job managing fish and other marine life.

He adds that the poll responses also show that most Mid-Atlantic residents are broadly opposed to any actions they perceive as threats to the ocean and support government initiatives that would actually protect and improve it.

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