For all of the talk about high gas prices during the campaign (see this debate recap), there's a key question that hasn't been answered: Do higher gas prices erode support for the president? (In the interest of maintaining our sanity, we're going to ignore the fact that there is literally nothing that the president can do to affect prices.)
The New York Times looked at the issue this morning:
President Obama is lucky: prices at the pump have come down about 11 cents in the last month, and energy experts say they should continue to fall as the election approaches. Prices normally decline in the fall, and high gas prices in California are now easing after a series of refinery accidents a few weeks ago tightened supplies just when refiners were refitting their plants for seasonal changes in gasoline blends.
Perhaps more to the point, gasoline prices are below the national average of $3.75 a gallon in most of the swing states -- Virginia, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania -- that could determine the victor. Ohio, potentially the most pivotal state, has a price of $3.55 -- among the cheapest in the nation.
The big exception is Nevada, where the average gallon of regular gasoline is $3.95, 20 cents above the national average.
That sort of answers the question. But we thought we could do better.