RSS
Will stabilized gas prices help Obama?
A slew of new reports shows that the price of gas is starting to plateau. President Obama's re-election team may be breathing a sigh of relief
More stable gas prices could win over the 62 percent of Americans who are displeased with Obama's response to the high prices.
More stable gas prices could win over the 62 percent of Americans who are displeased with Obama's response to the high prices.
Zhang Yan/Xinhua Press/Corbis
T

he price of gas may have peaked at a shade below $4 a gallon, according to several new industry reports. That could be great news for drivers everywhere, as well as for President Obama's re-election campaign, which views high gas prices as one of the most serious threats to winning in November. Indeed, a new poll shows that 62 percent of Americans are unhappy with Obama's performance on gas prices, and another poll shows that the high cost of fuel is the second-most important concern to voters, after the economy. Will peaking gas prices help Obama?

Yes. And this couldn't have come at a better time: "After an almost uninterrupted rise" in gas prices since January, new data reveals that the average price of gas is remaining steady at about $3.92 a gallon, says Jim Snyder at Bloomberg Businessweek. This is definitely bad news for the GOP, which has tried to tie Obama to a "climb in costs." Stabilized prices could take the issue off the table, and preempt an anti-Obama advertising blitz funded by oil companies. 
"Signs of gas price drop seen thwarting GOP case"

But the warm winter muted the impact of gas prices: Sure, "gas prices have been a headache," says Michael E. Kanell at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But the mild winter, and the subsequent heating bills that "were far below normal," served as a combination "painkiller" for the effects of high gas prices. Because people were saving on heating, the expensive gas simply had less of an impact on wallets. Once air conditioners come on in the summer, expect consumers to really feel the pinch. 
"Gasoline prices about to pinch"

And $4 a gallon could be the tipping point: So far, Americans are bearing the high price of gas "with less pain and fewer political recriminations than in past episodes of gas-price run-ups," says Gary Langer at ABC News. In 2005, for instance, more Americans blamed Bush for higher gas prices than blame Obama today. The question is "whether the $4 mark changes all that." It could be "a psychological barrier beyond which all bets are off," and voters turn on Obama.
"Gas prices take less of a toll; let's see what $4.00 does"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week