The instability in the Middle East holds a hidden peril for President Obama. As oil prices skyrocket, his reelection prospects may be plummeting.
There is strong historical evidence to suggest that gasoline prices, whether people realize it or not, figure prominently in voters’ choices in a presidential election.
According to an analysis of data from the Department of Energy, in every election but one, stretching all the way back to 1976, if the price of gasoline was higher on Election Day than four years before, the incumbent president or the candidate of his Party seeking to succeed him LOST.
The price at the pump has a lot to do with our sense of well being. It is a point of frustration or satisfaction we recognize every few days when we go to fill up.
What’s more, gas prices ripple throughout the economy, affecting the prices we pay for other products that must rely on oil to for transport and other energy needs. And when prices rise, it harms the economy, effectively transferring billions in wealth out of the United States and into countries like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
The only exception to the Presidential Pump Price Predictor occurred in 2004, when the average price on Election Day was $2.03 per gallon for regular gas compared to $1.54 in 2000. George W. Bush won reelection, but just barely, and against a deeply flawed candidate – John Kerry – during time of war.
The pattern resumed in 2008, when the presidency again switched parties as gas become more expensive. The price had risen to $2.40 on Election Day and Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain.
Of course, there are many things that go into a presidential election. But a factor that has been consistent in eight out of the last nine presidential elections cannot be ignored.
The price of gasoline last week was $3.38 per gallon, about a dollar higher than the day Obama was elected.