Monday, August 25, 2008


On April 9, I wrote:

The Fed and the White House need you to get used to all this. Habituation is crucial, so when you've been paying $3.50 at the pump for months and it "plunges" to $3.40 for a few weeks (right before an election, say) you'll feel grateful.

Well, the decline started from a higher peak, but so far Operation Habituation is working like a charm:

A national survey shows gas prices have dropped 15 cents a gallon in the last two weeks.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline at self-serve stations was $3.70 Friday. Mid-grade was at $3.83 and premium was at $3.95. ...

Despite the drop, gas nationally was almost 95 cents higher than a year ago.

Prices so far this summer peaked July 11 at $4.11 for a gallon for regular.

Guess what also peaked right around July 11?

In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened a 5-point lead on Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential race and is seen as a stronger manager of the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama's solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.

The reversal follows a month of attacks by McCain...

Err, yes. But the reversal also follows a month of falling prices at the pump -- down a whopping forty-one cents a gallon nationally -- to the point where McCain, at least in that poll from last week, has a nine-point lead over Obama on the question of who would be the best manager of the economy.

There are several factors behind the recent decline in the price of oil. For those who think it's solely a function of lower demand, I'll try to put up another post soon. As one might suspect during an election year, there's more than meets the eye.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Habituation indeed. Just this weekend my girlfriend remarked how good it was that gas prices are coming down. And I replied that it was funny how we now think $3.50 a gallon isn't bad when it's still so much higher than it was a year or two ago. She just nodded ruefully. That's how they get ya!

I'm looking forward to a post about oil prices from you, CR. My education about the world continues apace. And I would be interested to read your take on things.

8/25/2008 10:39 AM  
Blogger SRB said...

Gas under $4.00 by Nov. 4 was pretty much a certainty.

But what makes me numb is that Bush has signed on to an Iraq withdrawl timetable-a timetable!- and the press, the Dems, most bloggers, and the nation snooze through it.

8/25/2008 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They just have to be all in bed together. The Dems play the fall guy roll. The press is in on it. All I ever hear about is McCain's attack ads. Where are the Obama attack ads? I thought Obama had more money also? Why...or what is he spending it on? Really confusing...Not that I don't like the fit of my tin foil cap but I think I'm going to have to double wrap it now! I don't even think it is the gas...Obamas campaign is virtually non existant as far as I can tell. Why didn't the frontrunner take any advantage is his frontrunner status? He just sat there while McCain chewed him up. Really incredible. I don't even care...but really I find it mind boggling that the democrats seem to play the pinata role every 4 years.

8/25/2008 11:28 AM  
Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Zogby is a crappy pollster. He's not to be trusted. Any decent political blogger will tell you as much. The only other ones who think it is tied or McCain is ahead are the brain dead idiots at CNN.

8/25/2008 11:46 AM  
Blogger 8 said...

Obama's relative silence (we sure have been getting boatloads of his ads here in Philly) is explained by campaign finance rules. Yes, he has a fundraising lead, but he's not allowed to touch some of the money until after the convention for reasons I do not fully understand.

Everytime I hear, "gee, those prices are coming down, aren't they," I try to ad, "Well, if I told you you'd be celebrating $3.25 a gallon four years ago, you would have told me I was crazy."

8/25/2008 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite the drop, gas nationally was almost 95 cents higher than a year ago.

And yet we're all so grateful for the price drop we don't pay much attention to this fact. We're all just frogs who can't/won't notice that the water is very near the boiling point.

8/25/2008 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the prices began to fall a few weeks ago, I remarked that they will continue to fall until the election, after which time they will rise again. This dissipates the perceived advantage that Obama has among those distressed about the economy.

When the Bush-Maliki timetable for withdrawal was announced, I thought this is a second act designed to remove a perceived electoral advantage from Obama for the fall. I believe that is the only motivation the Bush administration has for negotiating it, and explains the silence of the McCain campaign on the issue.

Cynical? Moi? No, just an astute reader of our recent history.

8/26/2008 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But how can the Dems be so dumb as to not try to point this out? Have to give the repugs some credit though. The idea of sending tax rebate checks (Bush did it twice) is truly a masterful propaganda move. Look...aren't we nice...we give you Free Money!!! I've been in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Washington(state) the last 6 months and I haven't heard a peep out of the Obama campaign. Nothing. Nada. All McCain.

8/26/2008 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6 monts is probably a bit too far out since he was fighting Hillary...but I guess what I am looking for is to show some sort of balls in standing up to McCain. Democrats just sit there and take it...or they do a bit of whining...not a very effective campaign manuever. People are stupid. If you don't counterattack...the other sides slander will stick. GWB the war dodging cheer leader labeled Gore and Kerry (both active duty military veterans) sissy feminists and won both elections. What can you say to that?

8/26/2008 6:20 PM  
Blogger Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

"When the Bush-Maliki timetable for withdrawal was announced, I thought this is a second act designed to remove a perceived electoral advantage from Obama for the fall."

I agree: it's a favorite tactic of Kabuki Rove. By the time they do the switcheroo, most will have forgotten.

Polls, like sausages and election results, are made in back rooms where sensible people dare not go. There are a hundred ways to skew a poll before the first question is asked, and a thousand ways during the qualifying questions. I don't trust any of the national polls. Contrary to goldhorders observations: I see, even on CNN, thousands of people behind Obama compared to hundreds showing up for McCain. The purpose of these polls is to create the fiction of a close race so that when McCain's fixers are done with the counting it seems as 'no surprise'.

8/27/2008 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope your right. Even though I don't believe in Obama(He might even be worse) can't have any hope for Americans if they actually stand behind these obvious war mongerers again. Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Hezzbolah, etc. aren't enough...we need to start a war with Russia too! Maybe the financial ruin I've been waiting for is closer than I thought. What else could describe the crazy behaviour of Cheney, Bush, and McCain.

8/28/2008 5:53 PM  

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