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Friday, March 2, 2012

Pump Prices, Presidential Politics, and Public Opinion

As a previous post indicated, high gasoline prices can be a significant issue in a presidential election.  Although most Americans do not blame the president for the current situation, they think that he can do something about it.  And if they start to believe that he's dawdling, he will have a problem.

The Pew Research Center reports:
The public spreads the blame for the recent rise in gasoline prices. While 18% say President Obama or his administration are most to blame, about as many (14%) volunteer the oil companies or domestic oil producers.
Roughly one-in-ten (11%) mostly blame Iran, the upheaval in the Middle East or the threat of war in the region, according to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post, conducted Feb. 23-26 among 1,005 adults.
Amid a national spike in gas prices, two in three Americans say the hike in costs is causing them financial hardship at home, according to a CBS News poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted between February 24 and 27, surveyed more than a thousand adults nationwide as gas prices continued to climb to an average of $3.731 per gallon, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. A month ago, the average cost was more than $0.30 cheaper, at $3.429 dollars a gallon.

Sixty-seven percent of Americans say high gas prices have caused a financial hardship in their households; of those, 38 percent say that hardship is serious. Thirty-two percent of Americans say they had not suffered financial hardship to do the rising costs of gas....

A majority of people do think that a president has some control over the situation. Fifty-four percent say gas prices are something a president can do a lot about, while 34 percent think it is beyond any president's control.

There are partisan differences on this question, however. Republicans (71 percent) are more likely to say the president, now a Democrat, can do something significant to control the price of gas, while Democrats are more divided. Forty-two percent of Democrats say a president can do a lot about gas prices; 43 percent say it is beyond his control.
A 2008 ad played to this belief: