High Gasoline Pump Prices May Magnify Presidential Disapproval

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump may have had an eye on his approval rating as he continues to complain over Twitter to OPEC about the high cost of gasoline.

“REDUCE PRICING NOW!,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, accusing OPEC of “doing little to help” lower pump prices. OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia told the group it pumped 10.5 million barrels a day in June, about 500,000 more than the previous month, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump’s OPEC tweets come as gasoline prices are more than 60 cents a gallon higher than a year ago. That threatens to eat away at savings from the GOP tax cut just as midterm elections approach.

High Gasoline Pump Prices May Magnify Presidential Disapproval

Trump’s approval rating climbed to 45 percent in the week of June 11-17, matching his highest level from January 2017, before slipping back to 42 percent, according to Gallup’s weekly approval poll. Gasoline prices are far from the only influence on voters’ opinions, with other issues such as immigration policy and the environment also factoring in.

High gasoline prices are no help to U.S. presidents, especially if their approval ratings are already shaky, according to Washington-based consultant ClearView Energy Partners.

"You can find a fairly strong inverse relationship in national presidential election years between the gasoline price and presidential approval," said Kevin Book, managing director at Clearview. "When presidents are in disfavor, the high gasoline price only adds to that."

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.