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Democratic fears and Republican hopes that rising gasoline prices could hurt President Obama's and his party's chances in the 2012 elections may be unfounded, according to the results of a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center Poll. Although a larger percentage of people—18 percent—blame President Obama for the price rise than any other single cause, 28 percent blamed President Bush for increases in 2005.

Americans also don't blame the oil companies the way they did in 2005. Then, 36 percent said the companies were to blame. Now only 14 percent do. Then, the percentage who blamed Middle East tensions for the rise didn't register at all in the poll; now 11 percent blame such tensions. The largest percentage, however, is in the Don't Know/Confused category. In the most recent poll, 24 percent gave that answer; in 2005 only 10 percent did.

With the average nationwide price of gasoline having risen to $3.74 a gallon, Republicans have grasped what they see as a political opportunity. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday:

“Over the past few weeks, the American people have begun to feel the painful effects of President Obama’s energy policy. Make no mistake: The rising price of gasoline isn’t simply the result of forces we can’t control.”
Obama hasn't been taking such claims sitting down. In two recent energy-themed speeches, he pointedly noted that Republicans are "licking their chops" over the prospect that rising prices will pinch Americans' pocketbooks and vote accordingly for what he calls the GOP's three-point energy plan: drill, drill, drill. In fact, he says, there is no "silver bullet" when it comes to dealing with energy. Efforts must be made on all fronts, including investments in renewable power sources. As far as drilling is concerned, Obama says, the number of domestic oil rigs now operating is near an all-time and his administration has opened up millions of acres of on- and off-shore public land to drilling. He has also repeated his charge to Congress to get rid of $4 billion a year in tax breaks for oil companies now making record profits even as the effective tax rate for some is zero.

So far, at least, the Republicans don't seem to be scoring any hits on this gas-price front. If prices rise far higher, that could change. But, in a way, the fact that they are using the rising prices so avidly shows how weak their position is going into this election. That's in part, at least, due to their sinking argument about the economy in general. While there is still a long way to go before it could possibly be called healthy, and there are still caveats, recent news across a broad range of economic metrics has been positive. Mitt Romney's claims that Obama inherited an economic crisis that he made worse doesn't resonate at a time when 200,000-plus new jobs are being reported each month.

As Steve Kornacki writes:

Increasingly, Obama’s message has shifted from promising that his policies will eventually work to bragging that they are working, while Republicans have been forced to deemphasize “He made it worse!” and adopt “It could be better!” as their mantra. The recovery is tenuous (and so are Obama’s polling gains), but for the moment, the roles have been reversed and it’s Obama who now has the stronger message on the economy.
If the economy doesn't slip from its recent gains the way it did a year ago, that message is likely to resonate for Obama and other Democrats come November.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 10:04 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Agreed. It also helps that Newt Gingrich is (4+ / 0-)

    making this a signature issue for himself and getting some airplay. Everybody knows Newt is not an expert on energy. If he's mouthing off, it must be bullshit.

    However, releasing the reserve, or even discussing it as an option, would have an effect on speculators. They're anticipating it anyway so its priced into the call.

    •  Newt says gas will be $1.16 under his Presidency (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SCFrog, SammyJames

      like it was when he was Speaker. I remember in the Summer of '08 gas was around ~4 a gallon. Newt thinks that he'll be able to get it down below what Bush had? What a dummy.
      When I was younger, I remember gas being $~1. But then again the only car I had back then was a Barbie Convertible. AHHH those were the good ol' days. I doubt we'll ever see that again.

      Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

      by YoungArizonaLiberal on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:18:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I must commend you, you do solid work ...thanks (6+ / 0-)

    /If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer/. Thoreau

    by hron on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 10:20:18 AM PST

  •  Gee, you don't think it might be because (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, SCFrog, SammyJames

    gas prices didn't rise as a result of his VP having secret meetings with energy companies.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 10:22:10 AM PST

  •  Obama didn't kiss and hold hands with 'em... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, SammyJames

    Just sayin...

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 10:27:30 AM PST

  •  It's GREAT year to run against congress. (0+ / 0-)
  •  Gas price blame will not decide election... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But gas prices will hurt recovery which could decide the election.   Remember that big oil threatened there would be repercussions if KXL was blocked and not a week after it was delayed the gas prices started to rise steeply.  That is not a coincidence and one I wish the Obama Admin or campaign would highlight.  It's Big Oil playing games to purposely raise prices for political purposes.

  •  I still blame Bush ;) nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, here4tehbeer, PZinOR, SammyJames

    “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway” ~ Henry Boye~

    by Terranova0 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 10:37:17 AM PST

  •  Those don't knows (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    will eventually turn to blaming Govt, that is the easiest target.

  •  They came, they drilled... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    ...they got nuthin'...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 11:02:41 AM PST

  •  Rising gas prices is a good thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every 10 cents they go up makes Sparhawk rejoice, because it ratchets up the pressure and forces people to make alternative choices they would not if gas were cheap.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 11:13:43 AM PST

    •  We don't agree on much (economically speaking)... (5+ / 0-)

      ...but I do agree with you on this. But then I have called for higher taxes on oil (and gas) for decades (with appropriate measures to help lower-income people hurt by this). However, an election year is not the time to be pushing for something that we know has had an impact on voter attitudes in the past. The truth is that oil prices are going to rise except during recessions. And that is a good thing because it will encourage people to stop burning so much of it, which we must do if we plan to mitigate the impact of climate shift.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 11:38:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "...and other Democrats", (0+ / 0-)

    yes pleez

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:05:51 PM PST

  •  “He made it worse!” is Wisdom (0+ / 0-)

    “It could be better!” is being Smart-Ass

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:10:41 PM PST

  •  I bought gas yesterday for $3.65. Today I drove (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, sgary, Lonely Liberal in PA

    by that same station and it was $3.54. (GRR... don't you hate when that happens?)

    Has anyone else noticed an abrupt decrease in gas prices? Are they expected to go down before summer then creep back up again?

    Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

    by YoungArizonaLiberal on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:13:56 PM PST

    •  Yep. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They do seem to be somewhat irregular at this point, but I have my gas usage down to where I only have to fill up about once a month (not everybody can do this, which I completely understand).

      Don't gas prices usually rise around Memorial Day anyway?  If so, I'd expect to see them go up more.

      (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:45:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Always dangerous to predict commodities (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, YoungArizonaLiberal

      I've actually seen gas prices bounce around a great deal in the last month. My family took a 2-day to Traverse City and gas was $3.35/gal on the drive up and $3.65 on the return trip. It has since spiked to $3.99 in just the last couple of hours at the station I use most often (I filled my wife's tank this morning at $3.79/gal at the very same station -- go figure.  )

      My cousin in Denver is seeing prices of less than $3.20/gal, and my brother in our hometown of Newport News, VA is paying less than $3.60/gal.

      The cynic in me asserts that some speculators are feasting off of the uncertainty of the Iranian situation (even as CNBC reported West Texas Crude down $2/bbl for the trading day and gasoline down nearly 8 cents/gal). If it is speculation, the players will be playing each other and some will cash before they sense some significant number of drivers attempt to modify driving habits. Then they will "piggyback" on the increase inherent in reformulating gas for Summer Driving season. Add to that all the heated political rhetoric about "who's at fault" and a relative handful of commodity traders are going to be enriched at the expense of millions of us (and the traders who guess wrong.)

      In short, who knows what the price will be at any given time? I'm not looking for any meaningful "price relief" anytime soon.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:56:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I blame President Obama. (0+ / 0-)

    A month ago I was promised $4+ gasoline by this time this month and today I had to pay $3.44.  That's less than one year ago when I had to make a 1700 mile road trip.  I intend to figure out the difference at the end of the month and donate it to his campaign.  

    Open, but not gaping..

    by sgary on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:14:58 PM PST

    •  $3.44! You Lucky Bastard! (I mean that in the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      nicest way)
      What part of the country do you live in?

      BTW. According to the GOP, gas is supposed to be $8 dollars a gallon this summer, Boehner will take office since Obama forged his birth certificate, and a brokered convention will yield Jeb Bush as the BEST NOMINEE EVAH!

      Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth's sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.-Louisa May Alcott

      by YoungArizonaLiberal on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:23:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  near the Missouri/Iowa line (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        where it is usually 10-20 cents a gallon cheaper than a few miles north or south.  I'd be perfectly happy to see Iowa increase it's gas tax by 10 cents per gallon (as they tried all year to do) if it meant they'd work on our horrid rural roads.  

        And even though living rurally means lots of driving to anywhere, I'm with those that think gas should cost more.  After the general election, of course.

        Open, but not gaping..

        by sgary on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 09:51:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Will the Republican playbook be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To bring up sex and culture war issues as much as possible to distract from this sort of stuff?  If so, will Democrats be happy to accommodate them?

  •  Sit at the Koch's dinner table tonight! (0+ / 0-)

    For years, they have been able to convince Americans that oil prices were a result of government regulation.

    Despite some very concerted efforts to make Americans stupid most Americans are convinced that there's evil afoot here.

    Grab Rachel tonight. Rush doesn't understand how birth control pills work!

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    by MrMichaelMT on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:15:09 PM PST

  •  A good sign for November? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Liberal in PA

    President Obama has proven to be somewhat resilient to being blamed for situations that are pretty much out of control.  Is it possible that maybe the American people are starting to understand that one party has their interests at heart while the other couldn't care less about the average citizen?  Could this be a result of the republican strategy to destroy America to make sure that Obama is not re-elected?  Is it actually possible that November could see a return to a Democratic Congress?  

    I have been skeptical but polls such as this, as well as improving trends in other polls give me hope that the republicans may have grossly overplayed their hand.  Time will tell but a lot of "conventional wisdom"  seems a little suspect recently.

    •  Seems So (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mike RinRI

      The issue isn't that the Republicans are blaming any less, it seems to be that they're much more blatant about it.

      Blatant only works on really stupid people.  A bit of subtlety is lost on them, but required for most people to consider the idea.  And at this point, the Republicans have lost the ability to be subtle.

      With them visibly doing absolutely nothing of any consequence in Congress, America looks like it's putting the blame squarely on them.

      (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

      by Lonely Liberal in PA on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:47:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The "Drill Baby Drill" chant sure is kinda loosing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, SCFrog

    it's sting considering we're now major exporter of that precious 'Old Jed's a millionaire black gold Texas tea'.  Dog with no teeth still bent on humping us.

    "There's nothing in the dark that's not there when the lights are on" ~ Rod Serling

    by jwinIL14 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:18:50 PM PST

  •  $5 gas is the new freakout point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A guy on CNBC made the point today that $4 gas has
    happened enough that people don't freakout at it.
    He thinks $5 is the new freakout point.

    I think he may be on to something.

    People are used to gas hovering between $3 and $4,
    it will take a "new High" to get people really upset.

    Today's problems are yesterday's solutions. Don Beck

    by Sherri in TX on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:19:18 PM PST

  •  The Wall Street markets just happen to be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    going up at the same time.  Coincidence?  Oil is a traded commodity on the market, isn't it?

    •  Friggin speculators jack us around while laughing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SCFrog, Anna M, PorridgeGun

      all the way to the bank. Golly gee thanks for that deregulation making it legal.

      "There's nothing in the dark that's not there when the lights are on" ~ Rod Serling

      by jwinIL14 on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:27:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, coincidence. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fsbohnet, SCFrog

      The Wall Street markets to which you refer are reflected, I expect, in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the best known symbol of Wall Street values. However, the Dow pertains only to a certain segment of large capital firms' securities. Bond markets, even for the very same companies, are a very different thing, and commodities markets, where petroleum speculators dwell, even more different.

      Bumpersticker: GOP. Cheering Death. Booing Soldiers. Join Us.

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:30:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The price drop (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anna M

        From $140 to $35 was directly due to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers going belly-up: they had huge futures positions in crude, unwound at an enormous loss when the companies were dissolved, hence the 75% price cut.

  •  We Face a Dangerous Moment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Republican Governors and those in Congress have shown a ready willingness to do what they can to sabotage economic recovery. We are reaching a moment when, as time runs out on them, they will be especially desperate to do so again.

    Bumpersticker: GOP. Cheering Death. Booing Soldiers. Join Us.

    by LeftOfYou on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:22:43 PM PST

  •  Speculators, Middle East saber rattling (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stewarjt, Egalitare

    the usual culprits.

    This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

    by Words In Action on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:23:09 PM PST

  •  Coinkydink (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's no coincidence that oil and gas prices rising as Iran war drums started beating in Israel and the US.  President Obama deserves some blame for higher gas prices.

    If I was a communist, rich men would fear me...And the opposite applies. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

    by stewarjt on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:25:21 PM PST

  •  Elect Me President.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou, Words In Action

    ...I'll get gas down to $0.19 per gallon.  Phase 1:  select nuclear warhead landing sites.  You darn right it's the 43rd President's fault (again, I never print his name because I am not a profane man).  He caused all of it.  The tax cuts for the wealthy, while conducting the war in Iraq was a good start.  Overspending, while creating a monsterous deficit, when it was not necessary.  I am not a particular fan of the printing of the money, and the inflation that it's creating, but what choice was there?  The credit markets were locked up.  Let's hope the Fed can ween us off the easy money the right way, but I have my doubts.  We are not out of the woods yet.  This disaster that the former President created, along with his political cohorts will take another 5 to 15 years to get over, if we ever do!

    There is no hell on earth appropriate enough for those who would promote the killing of another person, in the name of a god.

    by HarryParatestis on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 06:30:36 PM PST

  •  Big "Gas Price" Control Rheostat In Oval Office (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's opposite the picture of George Washington - it's the huge numbered dial on the wall with the big pointy bakelite knob.

    It's connected to all the gasoline price signs in the country.

    That's how the president directly controls gas prices.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 07:04:25 PM PST

  •  thats a big "if" (0+ / 0-)
    If the economy doesn't slip from its recent gains the way it did a year ago, that message is likely to resonate for Obama and other Democrats come November.
    I remember last year starting off strong as well so forgive me for being skeptical at this year's gains. I'm not an economist but I'm just bracing myself for the worst... Thats the main reason I shudder to think about Santorum being the other choice and never found Operation Hilarity that hilarious in the first place.

    "If these Republicans can't stand up to Rush, how can they stand up to the Iranians?" - Redmond Barry

    by xsonogall on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 07:30:12 PM PST

  •  Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago (0+ / 0-)


    That is what Reagan asked the country in 1984.

    This is why he lost one state and D.C., and walked away with the biggest-ever electoral win since George Washington.

    This is why Obama will win in a fucking LANDSLIDE in November. Oh, and also because:

    - He killed Osama bin Laden

    - He has WAY-more respect for women than any GOP hopeful running for any office in this country, and can back it up with audio and video

    - He rescued the auto industry

    - He is as strong as an Ox, but looks like Zeus

    - He's just so @#$%!!! BAD-ASS that I can't even describe it properly

    Oh -- and also because Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are slimy motherfuckers who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near human beings. Ever.

  •  When I Was A Teenager, Gas Was 99 Cents (0+ / 0-)

    Yep, back when I was in high school, gas was 99 cents a gallon for a while. This, of course, was under Clinton. So if Democrats are so horrible for things like gas prices, why was I paying such low prices for gas under Clinton but such high prices under Bush? Explain that, Republicans.

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