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Gas Prices: A Top Election Issue

April 16, 2012

With gas prices averaging just under $4 a gallon (3.95 on average nationally) the 2012 Presidential election depends on what happens at the pumps. A curious relationship between national and state gas prices and Presidential candidates has emerged. All major presidents have made promises and formed attacks around the potential gas crisis. Newt Gingrich promised $2.50 per gallon gas if elected and Mitt Romney recently called on Mr. Obama to fire what he dubbed the “gas hike trio”.

The President’s recent approval ratings, which had begun to rebound due to improving job creation numbers, have begun inching backward again. The newest Washington Post-ABC News Poll shows that gas prices may be the main culprit. Just 26% of approve of the President’s work regarding the foreign oil and nearly half of those surveyed say they believe prices will continue to rise.

National consumption of oil has dropped in recent years, but national household consumption is about 1100 gallons per year, but it’s up around 1500 gallons in rural areas where commutes are often longer. For now voters are favoring candidates despite the fluctuations in price. California, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and New York are among the costliest in price and set to be the most blue during the 2012 election. Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, and Utah on the other hand continue to be cheapest and least likely to vote for the sitting President. The California News Service shows that 20 of the 22 states that voted against Obama in 2008 (and are likely to do the same in 2012) have prices that fall bellow the national average.

Rising oil prices have become a concern for the White House where many worry they could hurt an economic recovery as well as damage the re-election campaign. If prices continue to inch upward to $5 a gallon they’ll most damage the groups both parties need to win in November. Higher gasoline prices typically fall harder on households’ that earn less than 50,000 thousand a year and on those without college degrees.

As the President has taken to saying there is certainly no “silver bullet for avoiding spikes in gas prices every year”, but Americans have come to expect some sort of action, whether legislative or not, to control what they deem to be arbitrary changes in pricing. Bottom line: gas prices matter, and they could shape not only President Obama’s prospects for a second term, but could stall a recovery economy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2012 8:18 PM

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    • Brittani Haywood permalink*
      April 27, 2012 2:52 PM

      Thanks so much. And no it’s not a paid blog.

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