- On Air Program Guide
- A Blue View
- Brain Talk
- Cellar Notes
- Choral Arts Classics
- The Environment in Focus
- Gil Sandler’s Baltimore Stories
- Humanities Connection
- Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast
- Midday with Dan Rodricks
- The Morning Economic Report
- Radio Kitchen
- The Signal
- Take Five
- Your Maryland
- Public Commentary
- War of 1812 Stories
Could Higher Gas Pump Prices Leave Obama Running On Empty?
Tue, 21 Feb 2012 16:13:00 -0500
Rising gasoline prices and their potential to hurt President Obama's re-election chances have gotten recurrent journalistic attention during his presidency.
Recent stories in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, for instance, report that officials in Obama's re-election and White House are nervously eying the rise in gas prices because of its potential to slow the economy, hurt the recovery and make more difficult the president's argument that the economic situation is slowly but surely improving.
Meanwhile, the same higher gas prices give Republicans another angle of attack against Obama. They blame his energy policies — such as his decision to block the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline project and his renewable-energy push generally — for the higher prices though experts tend to blame Iranian threats to the global oil supply and other world news for the upward pressure on crude oil prices.
This raises the question, what is the connection between high gas prices and presidential elections anyway?
Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog examined this issue in February 2011 just before the Republican presidential campaigns took off in earnest. It was at a stage when Obama was clashing with congressional Republicans who were accusing his energy policies of contributing to higher prices at the pump.
Silver found there to be, at best, a weak correlation between gas prices and presidential elections though he makes the important point that there isn't as much data as one might want; there have only been 16 presidential elections since 1948, the point at which he starts looking at gas prices, the GDP and election results.
A key excerpt:
"The upshot is this: higher gas prices are important to the extent that they affect things like G.D.P., inflation and unemployment. But there isn't evidence that they matter above and beyond that."
This question has been studied by economists as well, as you might expect. Christopher Decker and Mark Wohar at the University of Nebraska asked the question if higher prices for petroleum products raises the chances of the incumbent party losing in states where it won previously? They found a correlation, especially in states that were big industrial consumers of oil.
"In answering the question of whether or not energy prices impact state's proclivity to vote against the incumbent party's presidential election bid, the answer appears to be a qualified, "yes". The results indicate that overall there is little evidence that increases in petroleum product prices impact the probability of the incumbent party losing a state in (an) election (it) previously carried.
"However, if one focuses attention on those states that are primarily energy consuming (due to a significant industrial sector,) then we do indeed find that the probability of the incumbent party losing a state previously carried increases with increases in petroleum product prices.
Worth noting is that several battleground states would be those with energy-intensive manufacturing sectors including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
So it would seem, all things being equal, Obama's campaign staffers do have reason for concern though just how worried they should be is unclear.
Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
IN FOCUS TODAY
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 4:41am
More than 17,000 Baltimore students miss 20 or more days of school a year. Many of these...
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 4:37am
WYPR's Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about changes to the horse racing industry in Maryland...
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 7:00am
Attorney General Doug Gansler may run for governor in 2014, but he's moving toward a decision...