Data shows gas prices may make voters red, Obama blue

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama is jumping aboard Air Force One on a two-day, four-state campaign to show he cares about the rising gasoline prices that are damaging his poll ratings.

Amid the complexities of a varied electorate, there is some correlation between voters’ gasoline costs and their voting preferences.

An analysis by The Daily Caller shows that states whose residents have higher-than-average gas bills tend to vote Republican, while states with low gas spending tend to vote Democratic.

And the critical swing-states that will decide the November election contain the drivers who cover a moderate distance each year on the highways.

The drivers in swing-state Ohio, for example, covered 9,586 miles on highways in 2009.

The national average is 9,620 miles, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

That’s painful for Obama, because Ohio drivers with a 30 miles-per-gallon vehicle are paying an extra $500 in visible fuel costs this year, compared to what they paid in January 2009. (ENERGY SECRETARY: I would give myself an ‘A’ for energy prices)

Voters in “red states” use more gasoline each year than voters in “blue states.”

Drivers in California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts averaged roughly 8,700 highway miles in 2009. New York’s drivers only accomplished 6,800 miles, according to the Department of Transportation’s 2009 statistics, available here.

In contrast, red state highway drivers in Texas drove 9,300 miles, drivers in Nebraska, South Carolina and Kentucky logged almost 11,000 highway miles and Tennessee drivers averaged 11,100 miles.

Wyoming had the longest annual distance — 17,580 miles — while New York has the shortest.

Voters’ annual highway miles are a crude guide to political leanings, but daily auto commutes are all over the map, according to recent data provided to the The Daily Caller by the transportation department’s Federal Highway Administration.

Two of the states with the longest auto commutes vote blue while three vote red.

The three states with the longest average commute — West Virginia, Alabama and Georgia — tend to vote Republican, and commute by car or truck 17 miles, 16.3 miles and 15.6 miles each day.

But the next two states — Maryland and Maine — tend to vote Democratic. Their drivers commute 15.3 miles and 14.6 miles daily, on average.

See here for the commute data.

Four of the five states with the shortest commuting distance tend to vote Republican, while Hawaii’s drivers tend to vote Democratic. They commute less than 8 miles to work each day.

Drivers in red-state Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota and Alaska all have average commutes less than 8.5 miles.

The auto commute in swing-states varied from 9.6 miles in Minnesota to 13.3 miles in Virginia. Florida commuters drove 11.7 miles, Colorado drivers reached 11.6 miles and Ohio drivers racked up 11.1 miles per day.

Obama’s two-day energy tour will take him to Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma and will end in Ohio.

Nevada’s drivers cover only 7,700 highway miles per year, but commute 11.6 miles on average each day.

New Mexico’s drivers drove almost 13,000 miles on the highway, but commute only 11.3 miles per day.

Oklahoma drivers stayed in gear for 12,700 miles on the highway, but commuted a little short of 9 miles per day. (SEE ALSO: Obama burns jet fuel to downplay gasoline prices)

Ohio’s drivers kept their average highway miles very close to the national average, and commuted 11.1 miles per day. Drivers in 17 other states drove shorter distances than Ohio’s much-watched and constantly measured driving voters.

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