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

Feb. 21, 2012, 8:49 a.m.

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