Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cheering For The Wrong Team

If anything is for sure in the world these days, one of the more certain items happens to be the behavior of the extremists who currently control the GOP.

With that in mind, our staff was unsurprised on Monday when we started seeing headlines roll across our computer and iPad screens like, "Obama's ratings drop as gas prices soar," or "Gas Prices Fuel GOP Pushback." The Obama administration knew it was coming too, as they had all the facts lined up to push back against the propaganda of the right.

As the White House noted in their energy progress report, and as we've noted here previously, in 2011, the U.S. was a net exporter of oil for the first time in 60 years. Further, domestic oil production is at its highest level since 2003. The fuel efficiency standards for vehicles - commonly known as the CAFE standards - have been raised significantly by the Obama Administration, and renewable energy has doubled since 2008, thanks to investment into clean energy projects by government at all levels.

Still, some of the chattering class were carrying on Monday and early Tuesday morning about the latest polling on President Obama. Most of them were chatting up a storm -  without actually understanding the polls or paying attention to how the poll numbers interact with real life factors.

This is why we continue to look to people like Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, and the Wonkblog group, headed by Ezra Klein, over at The Washington Post.

As Nate noted late yesterday, while the New York Times/CBS approval poll had an unusual drop in the President's numbers, the Gallup poll had a significant rise in the same approval number, in direct opposition to the NYT/CBS poll. As Nate noted previously - and as we pointed out when he did - "there’s not a lot of evidence that oil prices are all that important" in determining the outcome of an election. As Nate also pointed out on Monday, looking at just one snapshot of a few scattered polls will give you a lot of noise - unless you also look at surrounding factors and trends over time.

That's where Brad Plumer and the Wonkblog team jumped into the numbers, asking other statisticians and political scientists and confirmed what Nate said - that gas prices really aren't likely to decide the 2012 election.

So why were Republicans and right-wing media almost cheering higher prices at the pump, and blaming the President for them?

Because most Americans are idiots when it comes to understanding the price of oil, even if we've explained it a thousand times. In fact, in that same New York Times/CBS Poll that had the President's approval dropping, 54 percent of Americans thought the President could "do a lot about" gas prices.

Once again, for the record, professional energy analysts - who know FAR more about how energy and oil prices are actually set - confirmed over last weekend that neither the White House or Congress have any real control over the price of oil.

Unsurprisingly, that didn't stop the Republicans from cheering on increased oil and gas prices. After all, if they'll continue to defend a world-class champion liar like Rush Limbaugh, why would they tell the truth about Obama and gas prices?

If they didn't look so ridiculous betting against the best interests of Americans, the extremists on the right might be almost entertaining as they dance around, holler, and try to grab people's attention.

We have a feeling that when most of that 54 percent figures out the GOP has been cheering against America, the Republicans will be brought up short by more than just their waistbands.

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