Even as President Barack Obama considers using U.S. oil stockpiles to halt rising gasoline costs in an election year, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released yesterday shows economic pain at the pump is not a big concern for voters.
Fuel and gas prices ranked last among 10 factors that influence voters in evaluating Obama’s job performance and the country’s direction, the poll found. Health care, the economy and jobs top the list, with gas prices also lagging behind foreign policy, immigration and education.
“Gas prices, relative to the rest of this stuff, are much less important,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson said.
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“People talk a lot about how gas prices drive attitudes, but it doesn’t seem to have a lot of impact either on Obama’s job approval or how people see the country going,” he said. “People seem to see gas prices as a separate issue the government doesn’t have as much control over.”
Gasoline prices, which had eased after the national average peaked at $3.94 a gallon in April, have climbed again in the last month and hit an average $3.72 a gallon on Monday.
Worried about high prices, the White House is considering a release of oil reserves from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.