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Energy fades as campaign issue as gas prices drop

May 15, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • An April 20 photo shows a gas pump displaying a $100 sale in Barre, Vt.
An April 20 photo shows a gas pump displaying a $100 sale in Barre, Vt. (Toby Talbot / Associated…)

Barely two months after the cost of fuel was a white-hot matter in the presidential race, the issue has receded, just as prices have declined across much of the country.

AAA reported Monday that the national average price of a gallon of gas has declined for 28 straight days, 21 cents off the recent peak of $3.94.

That steady decline is the longest such streak since May 2010. Should it continue another day, it would be the longest since the summer of 2009.

On the surface, that's good news for President Obama. Republicans had seized on the rising prices in earlier primaries. Newt Gingrich at one point ran on a campaign of reducing gas prices to $2.50 a gallon. Others tied the rising prices to the administration's rejection of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The biggest decline in the price of fuel in the last month has occurred in two key battleground states, Florida and Virginia, where prices were down 32 cents on average.

Gas prices have ticked up in several Western states, however, with California seeing a 12-cent hike since April. AAA said that was a result of reduced inventory as refineries switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gas.

One reason for the national drop in gas prices is renewed concern about the state of the economy, hardly a factor that the White House would claim credit for.

"A weakening global economy would be expected to consume less crude oil, which puts downward pressure on prices," AAA's Avery Ash said.

Gas prices plummeted late in the 2008 campaign from an all-time high of $4.11 in August to a low of $1.62 just before Obama took office. The economic collapse drove that huge swing.

The price at the pump is a convenient political talking point for both sides, but one that neither has much control over day to day.

Original source: Energy fades as campaign issue as gas prices drop

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