Will Obama be rescued by a bad economy?
I suppose it depends on what you mean by "bad." A sluggish economy that limps along with 1.5% growth, 8.0% unemployment, and "moderate" inflation might still get Obama re-elected. This is partly due to a GOP field that has even Republicans shaking their heads at its weakness, and the possibility that gas prices - because the economy is so moribund - might not be as bad as first thought.
The "commodity bubble" may have burst according to some analysts. And the reason may be that the economy is so bad that supply is catching up with demand:
After four months of surging higher, oil prices plummeted by almost 9 percent as traders worried that American drivers were beginning to balk at paying nearly $4 a gallon of gasoline.
Energy specialists had a variety of explanations for the drop, including Thursday's weak employment data and a strengthening dollar that tends to make all dollar-denominated commodities cheaper in dollars and more expensive for holders of other currencies.
"Pop goes the bubble," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a consulting firm. "It seems unlikely you will see any tightening in the market in the coming months. The worst of the political threats have passed us."
Over the last four days, crude prices have declined by about 12 percent, the quickest drop so far this year. Similar declines have come for both light sweet crude, the United States benchmark, and Brent, the benchmark for Europe and Asia.
Gasoline prices have not yet declined, though experts say they have probably peaked and will begin falling in the next few days - probably in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
It may come as a surprise to the administration, but the more gasoline costs, the less people use it. Duh. In a way, Obama's horrendous energy policies themselves might be contributing to the easing of oil prices. He has made things so bad that people are voluntarily cutting back on driving because it costs too much.
Wouldn't that be an irony?
Of course, it is doubtful prices will end up anywhere near where they were in 2008. But as long as gas prices are not going up as they have the last year (30%), the pain at the pump will be reduced to a dull ache.
Despite a dismal record, Barack Obama can take comfort in history; incumbent presidents running for a second term usually win. This doesn't assure an Obama victory, but it shows the difficult road ahead for whatever GOP candidate emerges from the field to claim the nomination.