WASHINGTON – Republicans and Democrats seem to be living on different planets when it comes to how to meet U.S. energy needs.

Republicans overwhelmingly push for more oil drilling. Democrats back conservation and new energy sources such as wind and solar power.

A survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that the polarized positions on energy that have divided Congress and emerged in the presidential campaign also run deep among the public.

While majorities in both parties say energy is an important issue, the poll shows that partisan identification is closely tied to people’s perceptions of the causes of the country’s energy problems and possible solutions. No other demographic factor — not race, age, gender or income level — is as consistently associated with opinions on energy as political party identification. For example:

Three of four Democrats surveyed report that a major reason for the country’s energy problems is that industry does not do enough to support clean energy. By comparison, 43 percent of the Republicans questioned believe that.

•  Three of four Republicans in the poll cite government limits on drilling as a major reason for energy problems, compared with 34 percent of Democrats.

Also, 85 percent say it is a serious problem that the United States needs to buy energy from other countries, but there’s disagreement about why. Among Republicans in the poll, 65 percent say the U.S. does not produce enough domestic energy to meet demand. Yet just over half the Democrats say people use too much energy.

Even in areas where there’s majority agreement, a partisan gap remains. For instance, there is broad backing for programs to help consumers learn to make more energy-efficient choices, but the support is 81 percent among Democrats and 57 percent among Republicans.

Paul Bledsoe, a senior adviser with the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Clinton White House aide, said the results provide an unsettling snapshot of a partisan rift that affects every aspect of policy and politics. He said the big question is whether parties and candidates will acknowledge that they agree on a range of energy solutions and try to make progress, or keep up attacks intended to appeal to their political bases.

The poll, made possible by a grant to the AP-NORC Center from the Joyce Foundation, illuminates one driver of this campaign season’s divisive political rhetoric: Both parties are playing to their bases. So it’s no surprise that presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans push for more drilling for oil and natural gas, and President Obama emphasizes renewable energy development as part of what he calls an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

Carol Browner, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency who was Obama’s top energy and climate adviser, said the partisan divide over energy makes it hard to have a thoughtful conversation about what makes sense for the country.

“Ultimately it doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican — you pay your energy bill, you buy your fuel-efficient car, and you fill it up,” Browner said. To that point, the poll found that 90 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans say they’ve done something in the past year to save energy.