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The price of gas is on the rise:

Chart of gas prices
If this turns into an election-year issue, who are voters likely to blame? We decided to ask:

Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos & SEIU. 2/23-26. Registered voters. MoE ±3.1% (no trendlines):

Q: Who do you think has more responsibility for the current price of gas: Congress or President Obama?

Congress: 46
Obama: 28
Both equally: 14
Not sure: 12

Democrats, predictably, overwhelmingly point the finger at Congress (65-9), while Republicans (albeit by a narrower 53-25 margin) blame the president. But Congress is a two-headed beast, of course, so we included a follow-up question for the 46% who chose that option:
Q: Do you think the Democrats or Republicans in Congress have more responsibility for the current price of gas?

Democrats: 16
Republicans: 51
Both equally: 28
Not sure: 4

The breakdowns again are interesting: Democrats in this sub-group finger congressional Republicans by a 65-3 ratio, but Republican respondents are more willing to identify their own party as the culprit, saying congressional Dems are responsible by a 51-15 margin.

If we consolidate the two questions, this is what we get:

Obama: 28
Cong. GOP: 23
Obama & Congress equally: 14
Cong. Ds & Rs equally: 13
Not sure (overall): 12
Cong. Dems: 7
Not sure (Congress): 2
In other words, a real muddle. Of course, there's one key piece of information this particular line of questioning can't judge: how important gas prices actually are to voters in terms of impacting their choices at the voting booth. Studies actually tend to show only a weak link between a president's approval ratings at the price at the pump, so this issue may not have as big an impact as some pundits might think. And of course, prices could very well head back down later this year, which would change this calculus entirely. We'll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, our usual spray of approval and favorability numbers are, as always, available on our Weekly Trends page. Barack Obama's ratings nudged down slightly over the last week, but he's still doing better these days than he has for quite some time.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 09:52 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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