Political Animal


March 12, 2012 12:59 PM Jumpin’ Poll Flash Is a Gas, Gas, Gas

By Ed Kilgore

The new ABC-WaPo poll showing Barack Obama slipping against both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum along with bright flashing arrows indicating rising gasoline prices are the main factor in this shift should, as Jamelle Bouie suggests, dash any over-confidence among Democrats about the outcome of the November elections. If nothing else, it’s clear pump prices have offset any positive feelings about recent job reports in terms of perceptions of Obama’s handling of the economy.

The full ABC/WaPo poll isn’t available yet, and it will be interesting to learn the extent to which unhappiness with Obama over gas prices is congruent with the finding that 50% of Americans think the president can do something about the problem while 45% think he can’t. But Bouie is right: any foundation of support for the president that can’t survive a spike in gasoline prices even as the differences between the two parties on a thousand other issues becomes starker every day isn’t strong enough to take to the bank.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • pencarrow on March 12, 2008 10:02 PM:

    But... the WaPo/ABC poll consistently oversamples democrats, and this current poll shows 31% of respondents listing themselves as democrats and 27% as republicans. To me, that suggests that the results of the Prez's popularity are worsening even though more democrats than republicans are responding to the poll.

  • Rich on March 12, 2012 1:18 PM:

    like much in his administration, he's let the criticism bubble up w/o rebuttal and his response has been good but too late. Given that the shift is based on speculation, it would be the perfect populist point to drive home, as well as a good basis for jettisoning the many tax breaks for oil.

  • Teri Doeberling on March 12, 2012 1:22 PM:

    Speaking of speculation and gas prices I think that we urgently need a no holds barred investigation of these speculators. I'd like to see how many of them have direct ties to the Super Pacs and involve people like the Koch brothers.

  • martin on March 12, 2012 1:27 PM:

    In the runup to the primary here tomorrow, Newt is advertising heavily on his "250 Gas Plan". The usual Drill Baby Drill crap, but does send the message the Pres can do something. Assuming Newt gets stomped, is Romney prepared to adopt the Newt Plan?

  • CK MacLeod on March 12, 2012 1:29 PM:

    Think there's a bit of over-explanation here. For those of us paying attention to politics, even to the point of sitting through a whole evening's worth of cable chatter about the latest R primary, it's bleeding obvious that THAT party is firmly in the grip of people even crazier than we are. For sane people, including the vast majority of people likely to vote Republican in the Fall, it's just the usual pointless and boring political background noise. Whether the Prez is up or down a few points now in this, that, or the other opinion poll or poll of polls means close to nothing.

  • FriscoSF on March 12, 2012 1:32 PM:

    That's a Very good reason for Obama to dissuade Israel from attacking Iran

    This weekend Fareed Zakaria on CNN mentioned that Japan and Korea were willing to live with a nuclear N Korea
    And the Leadership of N Korea is not particularly responsible

    He mentioned India and Pakistan have gone to war THREE TIMES, are neighbors....... and still manage to live with each others nukes

    He also mentions that Israel has 100 or so nukes...

    SO, WHY is it so perilous for Isarel to live with Iranian nukes?

    Can't help but notice that Isarel provoked violence with the Gaza leadership

    Israel wants WAR
    They just want Obama to start it for them

    Anybody remember those threatening WMDs that Iraq had ???

  • RepublicanPointOfView on March 12, 2012 1:32 PM:

    Heads we win, tails you lose!

    We have the trifecta working! Our banks, hedge funds, and other big money sources are heavily into speculation on oil and gasoline futures.

    As we manipulate the markets and drive up gas prices:
    1) We make massive amounts of money
    2) We further damage the middle class which everyone knows is too large
    3) We are able to have our republican politicians blame high and rising prices on Obama and enough people believe it to increase our chances of regaining rule of the presidency

  • Ali on March 12, 2012 1:51 PM:


  • JMG on March 12, 2012 1:51 PM:

    Just another of the many mutually contradictory attitudes of the American voter which makes governance impossible. I want rapid growth, cheap gas, and oh, yeah, bomb Iran's nukes. I want high social services for myself and low taxes, etc. etc.
    It will be a great day for America when a President, Republican or Democrat, declines to run for re-election by stating "I'm tired to trying to keep you irrational uninformed SOBs happy."

  • Ron Byers on March 12, 2012 1:55 PM:

    My big concern isn't the current oil price spike, it is how Obama's Campaign Team has failed to take advantage of it. Talk about letting a good opportunity go by he boards. Is Axelrod awake up there?

  • T2 on March 12, 2012 2:07 PM:

    Obama's PR team has never been good. But the truth is this....if gas dropped to $1 tomorrow, the GOP would take full credit, the Media would waffle, and Obama would not see headlines saying "Low gas prices guarantee's Obama's re-election".

  • T2 on March 12, 2012 2:14 PM:

    On MTP yesterday, the "moderator" let Santorum spout all kinds of lies about why gas is high and how Obama won't allow drilling in the USA. But the "moderator" didn't ask for any proof or examples....just let the lies stand. If you were a casual watcher that didn't know any better, why wouldn't you just assume Santorum was right...and when the polling people call....you'd say, yes, Obama's to blame... that's how it works. Media as mouthpiece for GOP talking points..and it's not only FOX by any means.

  • Northwind1 on March 12, 2012 2:25 PM:

    Why are Newt and Mitt and Rick and John not asked more persistently what an attack on Iran would do to gas prices if that is the over riding concern of voters?The American reading public has not travelled very far from the credulous days of Iraqi WMD's thanks in part to this lack of curiosity.

  • rbe1 on March 12, 2012 2:30 PM:

    All of which only goes to prove that Americans are stupid.

  • Red Telephone on March 12, 2012 3:40 PM:

    Homophobia, condoms, gasoline and religion. Seriously, this is the recipe for napalm is it not?

    Wake the fuck up America -

  • bob h on March 12, 2012 4:33 PM:

    If gasoline prices are now the most important factor in our democracy, outweighing the improving economic news, rising stock markets, job growth, and solid national security performance, then we really are in trouble as a nation. How easy for the oil companies, oil producers, and Israel to dispose of an American President who displeases them.

    Most of those brassed off about gas prices haven't even noticed their falling natural gas home heating bills.

  • Ron on March 12, 2012 6:20 PM:

    I'd be careful about reading too much into the WaPo/ABC poll. The main difference in this poll and the previous (early February) WaPo/ABC poll is sampling. This poll has a 7% swing away from Democrats in the sampling, enough to explain the entire difference in the poll #s from the Feb. poll to this one. I don't know which one is correct, the Feb. one showing Obama with 50-46 approval and beating Romney or this one with 46-50 approval and losing to Romney, but the entire difference seems to be the sampling, not some actual violent swing in the #s. BTW, Gallup (which has had Obama's approval lower than most other polls and has had him upside down recently) has Obama back up to 49% approval today.

    So basically, this poll may or may not be accurate but I don't think it should be used to argue there's been some drastic slide in approval in the last few weeks.

  • Cha on March 12, 2012 11:41 PM:

    Here's President Obama's interview with KVUE in Austin, Texas today on Gas Prices and the Afghanistan War and why we should re-elect him. Very good interview.. Terri Gruca asked the tough questions but she did it in a respectful manner.