Rising gasoline prices may spell doom for Obama’s reelection bid

Article by Anita Panait, on April 3, 2012

One of the issues expected to be tackled in the upcoming US presidential election is the gasoline price, which have been increasingly becoming unfriendly to the pockets of Americans. Even though the price of gasoline is not really affected by the president’s performance, the opposite is true during election-year: the price of gasoline affects the way voters see the performance of the leader of the US.

Election data show that presidents during whose terms the price of gasoline is relatively flat, had their parties remain in power after elections. But presidents during whose terms the price of gasoline has drastically risen had their parties booted out of the White House. But why do people see gasoline price hikes as the president’s fault? Even though the price of gasoline is directly tied to the situations in the Middle East, refining regulations and fuel formulations, its effect on the economy greatly affect the voters. 

According to the February survey initiated by GfK Roper, Americans consider fuel prices as a major election issue this election-year. The polling shows that 71% of Americans consider gasoline prices are "extremely" or "very important," up from 65% in December 2011. One of the major concerns during the election period is the pump price issue, which is considered just as important as issues in taxes, terrorism and the deficit. It is even considered as more important than immigration concerns as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pump price concern is only ranked below the economy, education and unemployment. 

According to Geoff Feinberg, vice president of consulting for GfK Roper, President Obama should be concerned about the increasing worries about gasoline prices since it is one of his weakest points with the public. The president’s management of gasoline prices and the budget deficit are the major cause of voter dissatisfaction.

David Kelly, chief market strategist for J.P. Morgan Funds, said that though there is no direct correlations between gasoline prices and Obama’s performance, voters see otherwise. Kelly noted that gasoline prices are “a proxy for a lot of things going on,” which makes it very difficult to disconnect the pure effect of high gasoline prices from things that cause it. Obama, for his part, has foreseen that his political rivals will take advantage of the gas price issue and will use it against him in the election. In fact, he noted that attacks using gas prices as an issue will intensify this election year

Topics: barack obama

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