Energy, economy top 2008 election issues

Gone seems to be the days of the 2004 election where terrorism was a top issue. New polls out show economic issues along with concerns over energy policy seem to be the most important issues in 2008. Thus, the reason both Obama and McCain are pandering heavily on each issue.

Report from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – Like two rival filling-station owners across the highway in long-bygone price wars, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain keep putting up flashy signs and offering new incentives in hopes of attracting customers battered by $4 gas prices.

McCain is offering a summer break from the 18.4-cent federal gasoline tax, and holding out the promise of more offshore drilling to help you drive more cheaply to the beach. He wants to build 45 new nuclear reactors to generate electricity. On Monday, he proposed a $300 million government prize to anyone who can develop a superior battery to power cars of the future.

He may even wash your windows.

If you pull into the Obama station, he’ll promise you cash back from the windfall-profits tax he plans to slap on Big Oil. Check the tires? How about promises to go after oil-market speculators who help drive up prices as well as big subsidies for solar, wind, ethanol and other alternative-energy projects? The Illinois senator likens his energy package to the Kennedy-era space program.

Oil and gas prices that have doubled in the past year have squeezed aside the war in Iraq as the No. 1 issue this election year and both parties are blaming each other for the price spike — and for apparent congressional paralysis.

Obama and McCain have made high gas prices a top issue in their campaigns and have offered dueling remedies aimed at easing them. Their positions are being echoed daily by their surrogates on Capitol Hill. And both make it sound as if only their proposals would chart the path to lower fuel prices and a final cure for what President Bush once labeled the nation’s addiction to foreign oil.

This debate is certain to get louder as the November election approaches.

In a USA Today-Gallup Poll released Monday, nine in 10 people said energy, including gas prices, would be very or extremely important in deciding their presidential vote in November, tying it with the economy as the top issue. People said Obama would do a better job than McCain on energy issues by 19 percentage points.

Yet energy experts and economists — and even some of the candidates’ own advisers — say none of their signature proposals will have any impact on $4 gasoline or $130 a barrel oil in the near term, or even the intermediate term.

Is it open season for pandering?

“I think it is. This is a real pressure point for people every day, everytime they fill their tanks. Therefore, politicians can’t leave it alone,” said Fred Greenstein, professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University.

Video report from the Associated Press on some of Obama’s statements:

Video on McCain announcing his $300 million prize to the person who creates more efficient battery technology:

Recent polls have shown, and of course I can’t find them at the moment, that terrorism is way down on the list compared to 2004. This probably bodes well for Obama, however, McCain has been making himself no stranger to the issues surrounding gas prices and economic policy.