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The Trail: 2012 Presidential News from the Field / Campaign 2012

Rising Gas Prices Present Problem for Obama, Opportunity for GOP -- PICTURES

February 21, 2012


President Obama has ruefully acknowledged that his own approval ratings rise and fall with the price at the pump. While he's enjoyed an uptick in his approval ratings recently, rising gas prices threaten to diminish the bounce he has received from an improving economy.  

According to the Energy Information Administration, gas prices have risen 29 cents per gallon since December.

And, historically, U.S. gasoline prices are at their lowest in January and climb toward their highest in midsummer. This year started with the highest-ever January prices, and they’re only going to soar from there.

"As gasoline prices increase, people feel less and less confident about the economy," says Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight, a research and analysis firm. An IHS study concludes that each time gasoline prices pass a dollar threshhold—from $3.99 to $4 or from $4.99 to $5—the consumer-confidence index drops 1.5 points.

For each 30-cent increase in gasoline prices above baseline projections, the firm found, President Obama will likely lose 1 percent of the vote.

Click through to read about and watch how Republicans are seizing on the rise in gas prices to criticize the president -- and how Obama is attempting to spin the issue to his advantage.

Coral Davenport contributed 

Gasoline prices are rising at a record pace, topping $4 per gallon in some parts of the country. Click through to see how Republicans and the Obama administration are dealing with the shift.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)


House Speaker John Boehner last week reportedly instructed fellow Republicans to tap into any anger their constituents may have about high gas prices over Presidents Day recess. “This debate is a debate we want to have,” Boehner told his conference, according to a Republican aide who was present.(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The Republican National Committee, headed by Reince Priebus, recently sent out a talking-points memo that cited the national debt, unemployment, and the price of gas as the three best ways to define the “Obama economy.”


The Interior Department this summer is expected to authorize the nation’s first-ever oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean, allowing Obama to label himself as pro-drilling.(AP Photo/Steve Quinn)

President Obama pointed out in his State of the Union address, and is sure to bring up repeatedly on the campaign trail, that domestic oil drilling today is at its highest level in eight years. He said that the nation’s dependence on foreign oil has dropped to below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.(RICK BLOOM)


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