Oil prices are climbing above $105 a barrel, thanks in part to ongoing tensions between Iran and the West. In the U.S., a gallon of gas is averaging $3.50, and some are projecting prices to hit $5 at the peak of the summer driving season. President Obama is enjoying a boost in the polls, largely because the economic recovery appears to be gaining momentum. But will pain at the pump sour voters on his presidency come November?
Definitely. Voters will blame the president: Unless Obama takes action, he will face "anger from voters hurt by gas prices," says Ron Klain at Bloomberg. For families coping with the sluggish economy, "the soaring numbers at the corner gas station are far more meaningful than the indexes at the New York Stock Exchange." Working-class voters in the "suburbs and exurbs are hit hardest" by high gas prices, and they comprise the bulk of the swing vote in presidential elections.
"How to defuse political peril of surging gas prices"
The real issue is the economy: Actually, studies show that oil prices don't play a major role in presidential campaigns, says Brad Plumer at The Washington Post. However, the state of the economy definitely does, and Obama should be worried if high gas prices start to "crimp the broader recovery." The more consumers are paying at the pump, the less they're spending on American goods and services — and that's not good for the economy or Obama's reelection prospects.
"Will rising gas prices sink Obama?"
Republicans could get some of the blame, too: High gas prices would put Obama in a tight spot, says Ann McFeatters in the Boston Herald. But voters could "turn against GOP legislators" if they block Obama's proposals to promote energy independence. The latest spike in gas prices shows that dependence on foreign oil is "costly, tiresome, and dangerous" — which makes it all the more important to "produce affordable, renewable energy."
"Obama over barrel"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- 10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- Why insects are the future of food
Subscribe to the Week