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Gas prices are falling: why that might not really help Obama

Gas prices have dropped steadily in recent weeks, and the issue is barely registering with voters. While that eases some pressures on Obama, it doesn't necessarily translate into more votes.

President Obama’s advantage on national security marks the first time in decades a Democratic candidate has had such an edge. DC Decoder’s Liz Marlantes explains.
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Only two months ago, it appeared the rising price of gasoline would be a political liability for President Obama’s reelection campaign, and his Republican challengers quickly seized on the topic.

Now, gasoline prices are barely registering with voters as an issue.

What’s happened?

Since gasoline hit $3.94 a gallon on April 5, the price at the pump has dropped by 19 cents to a national average of $3.75, reports the AAA national motorists club.

The price of gas has fallen for 23 consecutive days, and the price of a barrel of oil has been falling, closing at $95 on Tuesday – down about $14 from its late-February peak.

Lower gasoline prices are good for the US economy because consumers end up with more money in their pockets when they leave the gas station. And, since most Americans keep track of what they pay at the pump, the price also has a psychological impact: rising prices put them in a grumpy mood; falling prices make them feel better.

But one big impact of falling prices is political – Americans no longer appear to be blaming anyone in Washington for what they are paying at the pump.

“Falling gasoline prices have taken the edge off the issue,” says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist at Gallup, the polling organization, in Washington. “Gasoline prices are still very high but not near the peak of July 2008, when it was $4.11 a gallon.”

In a recent George Washington University/Politico poll, only 3 percent of respondents consider energy and gasoline important, compared with 28 percent who consider the economy important.


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