From ABC News:
Gasoline prices could soon hit $4 a gallon, a threshold they haven’t flirted with since last spring. The average price paid by U.S. drivers for a gallon of regular now stands at $3.52, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which released its latest figures this afternoon. That price represents an increase of 0.04 percent from a week ago and 0.38 percent from a year ago.
Experts expect prices to spike another 60 cents or more, with the $4 mark being touched—or exceeded—sometime this summer, probably by Memorial Day weekend, the peak of the summer driving season. The last time the U.S. saw $4 gasoline was back in the summer of 2008.
“I think it’s going to be a chaotic spring,” says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service. He expects average prices to peak at $4.05, though he and other industry trackers say prices could be sharply higher in some markets.
The link between gasoline prices and presidential approval ratings isn’t perfect, but it is strong, as the above chart (from Strategas Research) suggests. Interestingly, presidents seem to lose popularity when gas prices are high but don’t get credit when they are low. Here’s Larry Sabato:
On the one hand, it is clearly true that high gas prices often coincide with lower presidential approval ratings. As political scientists have long demonstrated, these approval ratings are a strong indicator of a president’s reelection chances. As we have seen, though, gas prices alone certainly are not a perfect predictor of approval ratings or, indirectly, reelection. While continually rising gas prices would likely weaken Obama’s reelection standing, it would be just one of many factors voters consider when evaluating his first term.
So let’s put together the pieces of the puzzle. Gas prices could be quite high, over $4 a gallon. At the same time, the economy, while better, will be hardly booming. The new Wall Street Journal economic survey pegs 2012 GDP growth at 2.5 percent, unemployment at 8 percent. Good enough for an Obama reelection? Maybe. For the U.S. economy? Hardly.