The Partisan Mind on Gas Prices

Striking finding from the Washington Post about the reversal in polarity of belief that the president has magic control over gasoline prices.

This is an illustration of why you should never take polls too seriously. You see especially in the independents that when Bush was a very unpopular incumbent, independent voters were highly likely to blame him personally for gasoline prices. With Obama as a middling-popular incumbent, independent voters are mildly likely to blame him personally for gasoline prices. A naive read of that would be to say that Bush was less popular than Obama because he handled gas price politics worse. But if you look at the dynamics of self-identified partisans you see that more likely the reverse is happening. People make up their minds about whether or not they like the incumbent, and then if they’ve decided they don’t like him he starts drawing negative ratings on all kinds of things.