Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Weird Voter Behavior: Gas Prices

Of all the strange things American voters believe, the strangest may be that the President has some control over gas prices:
“This notion that a politician can wave a magic wand and impact the 90-million-barrel-a-day global oil market is preposterous,” said Paul Bledsoe, strategic adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center.
America is actually drilling more now and producing more oil than in 2008 (and a lot more gas, thanks to fracking), but demand in China, war jitters in the Middle East, the shutdown of Japanese nuclear plants, and about a hundred other things all have more impact on the price of oil than US production. Of course, since Obama made high gas prices part of his litany of Bush-era woes when he was running the first time, he can hardly complain that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are now making the same charge against him. The price of gas always goes up in the spring and usually falls after mid-summer, so this will probably not be as big an issue in November as it is now -- unless we do something stupid like start a war with Iran.

To get some idea of the time line involved in energy production, consider that this year's biggest addition to US oil production is a very productive BP platform in the Gulf of Mexico, at a location they leased in 1996, and where they started drilling in 2006. Presidential elections have very little impact on such things.

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