Average U.S. gas prices have jumped 81 cents a gallon this year, to $3.88, and voters have noticed. In recent polls, President Obama is taking the brunt of the political hit, and some analysts say that if gas surpasses its June 2008 record of $4.11 a gallon, Obama's re-election prospects are slim. Citing high gas prices, Obama is arguing that Congress should end the $4 billion in federal subsidies that the oil and gas industries receive. Would that siphon off enough anger to help Obama — or will rising gas prices inevitably spell his political doom?
Blaming Big Oil is Obama's best bet: Obama's taking a pounding on gas prices, but the harsh reality of the global oil market is that there's little he can do about it, says Jay Bookman in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Still, voters "don't want an explanation, they want a solution," so he has to do something. Taking on Big Oil may not lower prices, but "it gives Obama an alternative villain to whom he can point." And that might be enough to save him.
"Gas soars; voters whine; oil profits boom; politicians pander"
Without a scapegoat, Obama is toast: Obama isn't helpless, but he should "skip the coming, predictable assault on oil company subsidies, and take on speculators instead," says David Weigel at Slate. Sure, that would further alienate Wall Street. But if Obama fails to act, while gas climbs to $5 or $6 a gallon, that would indisputably end his re-election hopes.
"Four dollars a gallon and rising"
This isn't really about gas: "When did everyone decide that it's high gas prices that are hurting Obama?" asks Mickey Kaus at The Daily Caller. If people had jobs, or were getting raises, nobody would care about paying a few dollars more at the pump. Besides, Obama's "losing two out of three wars, the economy is flagging, and his signature domestic achievement is unpopular," so blaming his poll numbers on gas is crazy.
"Who decided it's all about gas?"