Remember last week when the price of gasoline dropped a penny? Those were the days. The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline rose a nickel over the weekend and is now $3.80 per gallon, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The average pump price has risen more than 50 cents in 2012. The price of crude oil is up about 8 percent since the first of the year, and refineries and wholesalers are passing along the higher costs to consumers. Prices have topped $4 in many cities across the country, and experts are forecasting the nationwide average could reach $4.25 before May.
The price of gasoline would have to reach over $5 before consumers were compelled to change their spending in other areas, according to a Gallup poll released this week. Almost a third (31 percent) said their “tipping point” was roughly $5.30 a gallon. Twenty-eight percent said the $4 range would be enough to significantly change their spending. The 17 percent of Americans who said that a price of less than $4 per gallon would be enough to cause them to cut back on spending or adapt their lifestyle are presumably already there.
Not surprisingly, 85 percent of adults said that President and Congress should take immediate action to control the rising price of gasoline. This issue is one on which Democrat or Republican-leading adults agree. Eighty-one percent of the former and 90 percent of the latter are looking to the president and Congress to take action.
But can they? Sixty-five percent believe they can institute action to keep the price of gasoline from rising, but nearly a third (31 percent) believe the price is largely beyond their control. Along party lines, 62 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans believe the President and lawmakers can keep down the price of gasoline, but more Democrats than Republicans (34 percent vs. 23 percent) think there is nothing they can do.
While the economy and job market have been showing signs of improvement, the price of gasoline is emerging as a pivotal issue in the upcoming presidential election. Seven percent of investors surveyed in February by Millionaire Corner, up from five percent from last November, specifically said that gas and oil prices is the news story most impacting their economic outlook. Almost a quarter (24 percent) said they were closely watching international news, of which escalating tensions in Iran and its potential impact on oil supply.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.