Politics: AAA warns of highest Labor Day gas prices ever

Published by: Robert Laurie on Wednesday August 29th, 2012

Robert Laurie

By ROBERT LAURIE – Hurricane Isaac boosts pain at pump prior to election.

In advance of the Republican National Convention, the mainstream media was focused on Hurricane Isaac, and its implications for the GOP candidate.  Supposedly, the party was going to be a crass excess which would be contrasted by the pain and suffering caused by the storm.  Lefties were desperately promoting the notion that conservatives were going to pay a price for their hubris.

Now, it looks like we’re all going to be paying the price – every time we fill our gas tanks.

According to AAA, the average price per gallon has now increased 49 out of the last 55 days.  For each the last 8 days, we’ve set a new all-time record for that calendar day.  The national average is now $3.75 per gallon, though that number is dwarfed in multiple states.

The bad news is that things are about to get worse.

Due to Hurricane Isaac, several gulf refineries were shut down, while others are operating at diminished capacities.  In addition, producers are still recovering from a refinery explosion in Venezuela that resulted in dozens of deaths and the shutdown of the nation’s largest processing plant.  The combined reduction in output has led to a spike in the futures market, which AAA says will contribute directly to the highest Labor Day gas prices in history.

A painful holiday price increase just 60 days before the election will be a big problem for the President.  Under the best of circumstances, high gas prices would be bad news for any incumbent seeking a second term, but consider three things.

First, pain at the pump will bring back the specter of the Keystone Pipeline.  No, it wouldn’t have been constructed yet, and even if it were, it wouldn’t solve the current dilemma.  But Obama’s refusal to build it speaks to his apparent disdain for oil, and his penchant for backing failed green energy policies while Americans struggle to fuel their vehicles. It will be a bigger, more prominent, issue the higher gas prices go.

Second, with prices spiking so close to the election, it will cause voters to re-examine the “are you better off than you were four years ago” question at the worst possible moment.  When Obama took office in 2009, a gallon of gasoline was at a national average of $1.84.  Over Labor Day, that will likely be less than half of its current cost.  This is not a fact that will be lost on GOP ad men.

Finally, while the current national average is $3.75 and climbing, it’s already well above that in several states.  Most damaging to Obama is the price in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.  All three of those states boast averages dwarfing the national at $4.10, $3.92, and $4.00 respectively.  They’re also big “driving states,” and every one of them is a battleground.

If prices jump just before the election, Obama’s handling of America’s oil needs will be front and center as people head to the polls.  The old axiom is that people vote with their wallets, and the price of gas tends to be the thing that hits the pocketbook hardest and most frequently.

Before the gavel fell in Tampa we were confronted by a press which was clearly hoping Isaac would be a major problem for the GOP.  Going forward, it looks like a may end up being far more trouble for the Democrats.