A new poll finds that the public supports President Obama over Congressional Republicans on gas prices. The National Journal survey shows that 44% of respondents trust the President “to make the right decisions to help bring down the price of gasoline,” against 32% for the Congressional GOP.
We’ve previously reported that both Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and Koch-fueled Cato Institute agree: “It’s Not Obama’s Fault That Crude Oil Prices Have Increased.” The poll found the public shares that assessment:
When asked what the main reason behind the price increase was, some 38 percent laid the blame on “the manipulation of prices by large energy companies.” Twenty-eight percent cited “tension in the Middle East, particularly over Iran and nuclear weapons.” Well down the list were “the policies of President Obama” (14 percent) and “the policies of congressional Republicans” (5 percent).
These findings are particularly impressive because conservatives and GOP presidential candidates have been bashing Obama almost nonstop on this issue, trying to blame the President for high oil prices.
What the president can do is reduce the oil intensity of the economy, the amount of oil consumed per dollar of GDP, which is the true measure of how vulnerable the economy is to the price spikes and generally rising prices that are inevitable as we approach peak oil production. Obama has been pursuing such policies, which include his aggressive fuel economy standards and investing in clean energy alternatives.
And even in the face of rising gasoline prices, the public still supports Obama’s approach, as the poll found:
Americans put somewhat more stock in the Democrats’ policy of conservation and development of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, than they do in the Republicans’ emphasis on greater domestic production of oil and gas. Fifty percent of respondents said that the Democratic approach “would do more to lower fuel prices,” while 42 percent went with the GOP approach.
In related news, the Washington Post fact-checker gives 3 Pinocchios to the GOP claim that Obama wanted higher oil prices. Also, Gallup reports that “U.S. economic confidence improved sharply” last week to “the highest weekly levels Gallup has recorded since it started tracking confidence daily in January 2008.” Finally, the WashPost notes of its recent poll:
At the moment, 63 percent of Americans say that gas prices are causing them financial hardship, with 36 percent saying the gas squeeze is causing “serious” financial hardship. (See Question 11.) But those are actually the lowest hardship numbers since May of 2008 — and, in fact, it’s virtually identical to what Americans were saying in May of 2004, six months before George W. Bush won re-election.