As gasoline prices approach (and in some places exceed) $4 a gallon nationally, the president appears to be taking much of the blame with two recent polls showing sharp declines in support for his handling of the issue.
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll now shows a record number of Americans giving the president “strongly” negative reviews on his handling of the economy. Nearly two-thirds of those polled say they disapprove of how he is handling gas prices compared to just 26 percent approving—his lowest rating by the poll. Specifically, 59 percent of those polled disapprove of his handling of the economy in general, a jump of 9 points in just one month and this despite the appearance of some signs of an improving economy. Most of the damage being done to Obama is among independents with 57 percent now disapproving, along with 66 percent of white non-college graduates disapproving as well.
The New York Times/CBS poll also showed the president losing 9 percentage points of approval during the past month, with 47 percent of those polled voicing their disapproval.
In a third poll by the Christian Science Monitor two-thirds of those polled say that the government should allow increased production from offshore wells and from shale deposits on federal lands as a way to increase supply to bring down prices. 54 percent favor drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska, while 47 percent favor rolling back some environmental restrictions to help increase energy production. That poll also reflected expectations that the price of gas will exceed $4 a gallon nationally within the next three months and one-third of those polled are expecting $5 a gallon gas by summer.
The president’s response has been, as it has been since his election, to push for alternative energy resources such as renewables and wind. His recent decision to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline project reflects his commitment to raising prices on oil in order to make alternatives more attractive. His comment on Saturday’s weekly address that “We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” reflects that ideology.