Americans Blame Obama for High Gas Prices, Poll Shows

Sixty-eight percent of Americans criticize the way President Obama is handling high gasoline prices, although most do not blame him for them, claims new poll released on Tuesday.

In the past month, U.S. fuel prices have risen to about $3.90 and the Republicans seeking to replace the Democrat in the November 6 election have seized upon the issue to attack his energy policies. Photo: Barack Obama/Flickr

More that two-third of Americans disapprove and 24 percent approve of how Obama is responding to price increases that is currently one of the biggest issues in the 2012 presidential campaign, writes Reuters.

The disapproval can become a trouble for Obama in the 2012 election, although the online poll indicates that voters hold oil companies or foreign countries more accountable than politicians for the price spike.

“Obama is getting heat for it but people aren’t necessarily blaming him for it,” said Chris Jackson, research director for Ipsos public affairs.

Most Republicans, Democrats and independents are not satisfied with the president’s way of handling of gas prices, claims the online survey of 606 Americans conducted March 26-27. Eighty-nine percent of Republicans said they disapproved, as did 52 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of independents.

“People are unhappy that they are having to pay $3.90 a gallon. They want somebody to be able to lash out at and the president is as good a person as anybody,” Jackson said.

“The president actually has some options that make a lot of sense to a lot of Americans,” said Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, “and that option, of course, is to increase American energy production.”

The most popular reason that voters cited of all political stripes for the rising cost was oil company greed. Overall, 36 percent of respondents said “oil companies that want to make too much profit” deserve the most blame for higher energy prices. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans said so, as did 44 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents.

Meanwhile, another twenty-six percent of respondents suggested a range of factors was equally to blame, including oil companies, politicians, foreign countries that dominate oil reserves and environmentalists who want to limit oil exploration.

However, there was slight difference in that result across party lines. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 32 percent of independents said all of those factors were equally to blame.

Republicans have hit Obama particularly hard for his decision to block TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas pipeline as a sign that his energy priorities are hurting America.

Hoping to soothe car-loving Americans, Obama toured U.S. oil country last week to promote his “all of the above” energy strategy that includes room for oil and gas development in addition to support for renewable fuels.

In Oklahoma, President Obama pledged to accelerate approval of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Republicans immediately dismissed the campaign-style stop as a stunt, citing Obama does not have the authority to really jump start the project.

Jackson predicts that Obama has little to fear, especially when historic trends are concerned, from gas prices alone if the U.S. economy continues to recover from deep recession.

Previous spikes in fuel prices have not affected U.S. presidential election results. But now economists suggest that higher gas prices could slow the economy, which would worsen Obama’s chances to be re-elected.

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