Newly released polls are showing that President Barack Obama may be looking at some tough times, despite the stronger economic picture.
According to ABC/Washington Post polling, Obama’s approval rating has dropped back down to 46 percent, and he now has a 50 percent disapproval rating. He’s also beginning to fade in head to head match ups with GOP candidates, according to the same polling, now polling only three points ahead of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and polling two points behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Why are Obama’s numbers heading south? Pundits say it’s because of rising gas prices. Greg Sargent writes, “Do gas prices explain the disparity? Eighty-nine percent say they’re concerned about them; 63 percent say gas prices have caused them financial hardship. Respondents say by 50-45 that there’s something the Obama administration can do to reduce gas prices. Obama’s approval on the issue is at an abysmal 26-65.”
But according to Wonkblog, the gas issue doesn’t need to alarm the administration too much, as long as it doesn’t impede the economic recovery. “It’s hard to rule anything out, but evidence is thin that gasoline will matter much come November. While Americans love to grumble about expensive gasoline — and with good reason — political science research suggests that they don’t usually vote over it. Nate Silver, for one, has found that ‘there’s not a lot of evidence that oil prices are all that important’ a factor in presidential elections.”
Republicans will try to use the issue to their advantage in the election, however, as we saw yesterday with Congressman Paul Ryan. But in general, it appears that much like the prices themselves, the political issue of gas will wax and wain with little relation to the real world.