SEATTLE — Will high gas prices sink Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections?
There are already some gloomy predictions among democratic strategists, given the last inflation numbers and a war in Ukraine that triggered the price spike.
An ABC/Ipsos poll released this week suggests that half of Americans say gas prices have caused them financial hardship, and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and oil companies in particular. However, Democratic policies and President Joe Biden were cited by more than half of the people polled.
"I believe President Biden, since day one, has been enacting policies to shut down American energy," said Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers during a swing through the Seattle area earlier this week. "He shut down the Keystone pipeline. He's been shutting down other pipelines. He's made it pretty clear that he wants to shut down American energy in the fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal, even though ours is 40% cleaner than anything else from around the world."
McMorris Rodgers, who is the Republican leader on the House Energy and Commerce committee, said she did not believe that a gas rebate for consumers was the right approach either.
"I'm not convinced that the rebate is going to be the most effective way to help people. It would just contribute to inflation," McMorris Rodgers added.
However, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland believes there is bi-partisan support for a gas relief bill, and, at least publicly suggests the Democratic position is strong.
"I've heard people say it's a good idea. But at the same time, I think the question is, what are the long term ramifications here? How long is this war in Ukraine going to last and to continue disruption to global markets," she said in an interview with KING 5. "This is an interesting conversation, because when you look at the drivers of inflation, we know that the cost of gasoline is definitely one of them along with other items. I think the question becomes, you know, are we going to provide relief for people in the short term, but what will be the long-term implications of it?
"As we look at the midterm elections, I would say that I'm bullish on the Democrats. Number one, a lot of good has actually happened. We have come through this pandemic, stronger than we imagined unemployment is down, wages are up, you're actually hearing a lot of sectors say that can't find qualified workers right now, because there's so much demand for work," said Strickland.
Yet, other Republicans sense an opportunity. Tiffany Smiley is running against Washington's senior Senator Patty Murray.
The Pasco native has long been an advocate for Veteran's Affairs, and was making a stop of in Orting on Wednesday to talk with Veterans about her experience as the wife of an injured soldier and how the experience shaped her perspective. When asked about what else she is hearing on the trail, she noted that crime and fentanyl abuse are common topics. But she says "from the gas pump to the grocery store, Washington families are paying more every single day."
Smiley said she believes as a country "We need to make sure we're doing things that are fiscally responsible," and said she blamed the gas prices on the idea that "We're in a war. The failed departure in Afghanistan emboldened Putin to take action. Gas prices are soaring now because of what is going on nationally combined with our lack of energy independence."