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History: Gas Prices Rise, White House Changes Hands

by Keith Koffler on March 22, 2012, 9:22 am

President Obama’s desperate campaign to recast himself as a fossil fuel-worshipping drilling fanatic surely flows from the agonies of his reelection gurus in Chicago, who have watched helplessly as the price at the pump soars while the president has spent his time attempting to sow windfarms.

Obama’s more politically minded advisers may be aware of a fact his alternative fuel acolytes don’t understand: In every presidential contest but one since 1976, if the price of gasoline was higher on Election Day than four years before, the party or the president controlling the White House was booted from power. If prices went down, power was maintained.

That’s why after spending most of his presidency relentlessly pounding the lectern demanding greater use of alternative energy – and spending billions to get there – President Obama Wednesday found himself on a New Mexico oil field proclaiming, “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.”

Today, Obama heads to Cushing, Oklahoma to try to mitigate one of the great mistakes of his presidency – rejecting the Keystone pipeline – by visiting a spot on the southern portion of the project, which he supports. According to Politico, he’ll issue executive orders aiming to expedite construction of the pipeline and other “vital infrastructure projects.”

Why? Because if history repeats itself, Obama is going to lose the election.

According the the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, gasoline prices are currently averaging about $3.87 per gallon. When Obama was elected in November 2008, they were at about $2.40 and had been falling rapidly.

It makes sense that, no matter the reasons people say they vote for presidents, gas prices may have an outsized, if somewhat subconscious, effect on their choice.

Like no other product, the price of gas affects our sense of well being. We feel the pain of rising prices not only every time we fill up at the pump, but nearly every time we pass a gasoline station.

Think of how often, if you drive, you find yourself checking out the price of gas. Higher prices hit us over the head like a sledgehammer several times a day.

When prices go down, we suddenly feel rich. It’s like getting a pay raise. It’s almost fun to pay for cheap gas. “Swipe that credit card, I can take it! It’s so much better than before. And less money for people overseas who hate us.”

The most obvious case of this effect – and the most comparable to the dramatic rise during the Obama presidency – is the increase during the Carter administration. Then the price doubled from 63 cents per gallon when Jimmy Carter was elected to about $1.25 per gallon in November 1980, when he was routed by Ronald Reagan. Under Reagan, the precipitous increases ended, and the price had declined gradually to $1.17 by the time he was reelected in 1984.

Gas prices also played a little noted factor when the White House switched hands from the Democrats to the Republicans in 2000. When George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in November 2000, the price of gasoline was at $1.52. Four years before it had been 30 cents less, at $1.22.

The exception to the rule was Bush’s own reelection, which occurred – just barely and during wartime – despite an increase at the pump in November 2000 to $2.00 per gallon.

But this is the exception that proves the rule. The Obama people, who have been insisting that there’s nothing the president can do about gas prices, better try anyway.

NOTE: This is a revised version of an earlier article.

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Just2old March 22, 2012 at 10:11 am

I for one don’t mind paying more at the pump if it means the defeat of Obama and his cronies ….money well spent!

Susan March 22, 2012 at 10:14 am

Gas prices weren’t the only thing that tanked Jimmy Carter. Gas could be $1 a gallon and Obama still has to go. His ideology preaches utopian, unrealistic ideals. Constitutionalism and utopianism can not co-exist, and we aren’t ready to give up our Constitution for his unicorns and rainbows.

That Executive Order he plans on signing for the southern leg of Keystone will have about as much value as the Executive Order he signed to get Bart Stupak’s vote on Obamacare. No value at all and ends up being nothing but an abortion. He has absolutely NO say in the construction of this portion of the pipeline and now everybody except the kool-aid drinkers know that to be true. This visit is nothing more than a photo op for his next propaganda film.

DeniseVB March 22, 2012 at 10:19 am

Exactly Susan ! Let the vetting begin……

My fear too, given the mandate of a second term, we have a peek at what America will look like in 2016 :( The Bigs have unleashed the vetting process !

Susan March 22, 2012 at 10:56 am

Thank you for the link DeniseVB. I missed this part of CPAC and didn’t realize Gerald Molen is turning Dinesh D’Souza’s book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage”, into a film. I can hardly wait to host a screening of this film with all my family and friends before the election!

Girly1 March 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

Obama is going to rue the day he brought his traveling road show to Cushing! The WH can cancel any plans they have in the works for his 2013 Inaugural party! The Audacity of Hope is now the Audacity of Hypocrisy!

rawheadrex March 22, 2012 at 10:21 am

Exactly what blessing from BHO is required to TransCanada to build a pipeline from to state to another? It will cross no international border. It will simply be a few more miles added to the already 100,000 plus miles of pipeline that cross the country. Someone somewhere should just tell BHO to butt out! No, that won’t happen because everyone will be polite to BHO as he takes credit for this pipeline.

anneinarkansas March 22, 2012 at 10:33 am

I will pay more to get Obama out.
Gas prices are not the only reason.

Wigglesworth March 22, 2012 at 10:53 am
Star March 22, 2012 at 11:22 am

Saw a cute one the other day–calling Obamacare Solyndracare. Pass it on.

MaryOhSoContrary March 22, 2012 at 11:21 am

I still can’t decide if this is just economic ineptitude or a full blown, frontal assault ON EVERY AMERICAN. Do the Obots really NOT understand supply and demand or do the KNOW that their out of office…and this is a flip of an economic bird to the American people who “just don’t know how LUCKY we were to have “them” leading us” (into the abyss).

srdem65 March 22, 2012 at 11:22 am

You are so right; the pain at the pump is universal and an every day occurance.

My personal observation on the mood of the country; there has been a subtle change from outrage on the right to hysteria on the left.

The Repub primary is virtually over and we can live with MrRomney. His supporters seem to be ordinary people and resemble our neighbors. He attracts audiences of motiviated voters. His history is visible and available for review.

MrObama’s supporters have a public face of thuggish union leaders and a basket full of wealthy glitterti from the entertainment and the sports arenas. His audience is composed of students and recipients of government largess.
His history is hidden.

Star March 22, 2012 at 11:27 am

I keep listening to Romney and thinking–what is wrong with this guy, I like him. I think he could administer, run the govt–maybe I need not to get so invested in what I see on TV (meaning Fox)–they need to bring one guy up, another down, keep it a contest–for ratings. I know others on this list will say he isn’t conservative enough–but maybe I am not, either.

Susan March 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

I’m not sure about the primary being over and done with srdem. My problem with Mitt Romney is that I don’t know what he really stands for. His operatives swoop into primary states and run relentless, pounding, negative ads against his opponents. He outspent Santorum 20 to 1 in Illinois and all he managed to do was depress the turnout for the vote. He’ll never be able to outspend Obama with negative ads so what he is doing is not constructive at all.

Yesterday, when asked by a CNN reporter if Romney was being pulled too far to the right by Santorum and Gingrich, his adviser – who has been with him since his days as governor of one of the bluest states in America – likened what he will do in the general election as an Etch a Sketch. Giving the impression that he’ll just erase all that conservative talk he’s been bloviating about and start pandering to the left. Being a long suffering conservative in a sea of go along to get along Republican politicians, I’m not falling in line this time around.

Star March 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

The woo over that Etch-a-Sketch comment was lame, in my opinion–of course, people are going to regroup, focus on core issues…It didn’t give me the impression that everything he stands for will change. These news people are just aching to find things to blow up… I am not very interested in birth control, family planning, whether moms should stay home, whether people should be married–these to me are not govt functions or concerns.

WMP March 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Here here – people need to chill. Of course his approach is going to change after the primary’s – that’s the reality of politics. I am very confident that Mr. Romney will be a strong leader as President and personally – I am not concerned about social issues – I care about the economy – it’s the economy stupid!

WMP March 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Oops – changes after the “primaries”.

srdem65 March 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I understand your concern and would agree that MrRomney’s positions on different issues aren’t excactly carved in stone but the overall and important things are acceptable.

ol’Newt would make a terrific President with his political background and his Repub creds. MrSantorum, maybe. But, both have such heavy baggage and negative personas that they might not be able to defeat a sitting President.
The very thought of MrObama’s reelection and lame duck status is frightening to contemplate. The only thing that moderates a first-termer is the wish to be reelected and without that moderation, who knows what havoc or destruction he could bring upon us.

Just2old March 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Mr. Romney balanced the Mass budget each year of his tenure as Gov with a Dem majority in both houses by cutting spending and not raising taxes. He’ll have my vote.

Susan March 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

He had a constitutional requirement to balance the budget in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he did raise taxes in the way of hidden fees. I can’ vote for a man I don’t trust.

NoO4me March 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Just2Old…..I am so with you.

Star March 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I thought you were ABO. Must have misunderstood. Well, I could never ever ever vote for The One.

Star March 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I meant to direct that to Susan… And I might add I can’t fault Romney for rethinking say, abortion–I rethought being a Dem.

Star March 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Also when Santorum has so little self-control and is so cross about not winning that he says we might as well keep Obama, my stomach pits out. What are these people–five-year-olds? This is politics. Man up! Every candidate will have pluses and minuses–but the minuses of the incumbent are so numerous and horrible, I don’t see how anyone can say oh, well, not getting my way, so I won’t vote. I don’t trust ANYONE these days–I am just trying to get a new start, some pardon the expression, hope, maybe a job for my kid, renewed projects for me….

Girly1 March 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Romney appears to have an insurmountable lead and has weathered the longest, bloodiest primary in decades. It’s time for Santorum and Gingrich to step down and pipe down!!! They are acting like spoiled brats – if they can’t get the nomination – they’re going to take the party down with them!

Romney will attract the Independents – who will never go for Santorum or Gingrich. Obama can’t win without the Independents!

The only winner up to this point is Obama! Once the shouting stops, Romney will be able to gather his wits about him and concentrate on taking down Obama which, after all, is what this election is all about! Romney is a decent man with a lovely family. I hope the uber-Conservatives will be able to put aside their differences and jump on the Romney bandwagon. This primary has been an embarrassment beyond anything I have ever seen – the politicians have to start acting like adults now!

creeper March 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm

If Romney is the nominee I will either vote third party or leave the presidential choice blank.

The end result of electing either Romney or Obama will be the same…a continued slide into socialism and bankruptcy. If that’s going to be the case, let Obama own it.

creeper March 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I hope you’re right, Keith, but it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that this rise in gas prices is being engineered by the White House so that they will start falling before the election.

Either that or the oil companies have finally had enough of the Grifter-in-Chief and his stifling of production.

srdem65 March 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm

The oil, gas and coal industry has no love for MrObama but the price of oil is determined by global interests. Could they manipulate the price of oil? maybe. Would they for political reasons? who knows.

Robin H March 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm

By keeping the dollar weak they are forcing investments into the commodities, which is keeping the gold and oil prices high. Whether this is intentional or just stupid, I don’t know. Some days my tin foil hat is firmly fixed in place and I think its on purpose and sometimes I forget where I put it and I think they are all just stupid.

langley barfly March 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm

…just goes to Prove that Barack Hussein Obama is a “Neo-Socialist”
(re: Left-Wing Hater, if anyone could find his “college records”?) and has NO CLUE how the AMERICAN Economy works…

MichelleIndependent March 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Even $5 per gallon is worth it to get rid of Barry.

For once, the pampered, worthless putz is going to OWN it.

Star March 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

We won’t get rid of him leaving blanks or voting third party.