Despite Sunday's demonstration in Washington-the biggest antinuclear demonstrations ever held in the nation-the American people as a whole place economic factors ahead of safety considerations.

By 50 to 41 percent, the public indicates it would not be willing to pay higher prices for electricity in order to reduce the nation's dependency on nuclear power.

Men, for example, are clearly not willing to pay higher prices in order to reduce our nuclear dependency, but women are divided in their views.

In addition, the public, by a 56 to 31 ratio, expresses the belief that the presence of nuclear plants is less of a risk to the nation than the energy shortage that almost certainly would result if these plants were permanently shut down.

Here are the questions and key findings:

"If the development of nuclear power were to be reduced in the immediate years ahead, we would have to rely on other sources of energy such as coal and oil, which in turn could increase the amount of money the consumer would have to pay for electricity. Would you, yourself, be willing to pay higher prices for electricity in order to reduce the nation's dependency on nuclear power, or not ?"(TABLE) (COLUMN)Yes,(COLUMN)No, not(COLUMN)No (COLUMN)Willing(COLUMN)Willing(COLUMN)Opinion National(COLUMN)41%(COLUMN)50%(COLUMN) 9% Men(COLUMN)35(COLUMN)56(COLUMN) 9 Women(COLUMN)46(COLUMN)44(COLUMN)10 College background(COLUMN)43(COLUMN)50(COLUMN) 7 High school(COLUMN)40(COLUMN)51(COLUMN) 9 Grade school(COLUMN)39(COLUMN)47(COLUMN)14 East(COLUMN)43(COLUMN)49(COLUMN) 8 Midwest(COLUMN)35(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)11 South(COLUMN)45(COLUMN)47(COLUMN) 8 West(COLUMN)43(COLUMN)48(COLUMN) 9(END TABLE)

"Some people feel that nuclear power is essential to meet the energy needs of the nation in view of a dwindling supply of petroleum and the higher cost for this kind of fuel. Which do you think presents the greater risk to the nation-the presence of nuclear plants or the energy shortage that might result if these plants were eliminated ?"(TABLE) (COLUMN)Nuclear(COLUMN)Energy(COLUMN)No (COLUMN)Plants(COLUMN)Shortage(COLUMN)Opinion National(COLUMN)31%(COLUMN)56%(COLUMN)13% Men(COLUMN)27(COLUMN)63(COLUMN)10 Women(COLUMN)34(COLUMN)51 (COLUMN)15 College background(COLUMN)31(COLUMN)61(COLUMN) 7 High school(COLUMN)30(COLUMN)58(COLUMN)12 Grade school(COLUMN)32(COLUMN)04(COLUMN)28 East(COLUMN)36(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)10 Midwest(COLUMN)25(COLUMN)60(COLUMN)15 South(COLUMN)29(COLUMN)57 (COLUMN)14 West(COLUMN)35(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)11(END TABLE)