Elisabeth Meinecke
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The Drudge Report is cheekily labeling an article about the outrageous gas prices and gas shortage in Southern California the "October Surprise." While it's unlikely even $4-$5 (and up) a gallon gas prices will turn Californians into Romney fans, CNBC is reporting that gas prices are likely to keep rising in October:

"It will only take another refinery issue and a bit more of geopolitical noise to have the first U.S. election at a US average gasoline price of $4 a gallon," says energy analyst Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix

Also contributing to the problem in California were issues at different refineries.

In general, however, CNBC cautions that the prices are easily affected:

"Gasoline futures prices dropped 30 cents after the expiration of the previous month's contract, reflecting the seasonal shift among many refiners from summer-grade gasoline to a cheaper winter-blend.On Wednesday morning, the EIA reported a sharp drop in gasoline demand versus a year ago — leading futures to fall to the low of the week. But prices quickly recovered after the fire at the Exxon Baytown refinery."

Gas prices and energy production often make cameo appearances at the top of the news cycle, but it's rarely sustained long enough to have any effective change brought about.  Interestingly, Rasmussen Reports shows that likely U.S. voters favor Obama on energy policy:

"Obama’s widest lead is in the area of energy policy. Forty-seven percent (47%) of voters trust him more in this area, while 42% have more confidence in Romney. The candidates were tied in this area late last month."

It might not hurt Romney to get out and talk a little more about the pain at the pump. Since voters still trust him more on economic issues, framing energy policy as an economic argument could play into his favor. Obama's track record on energy (Solyndra, anyone?) really overall is very weak as one looks at the failed investment and also his waffling over Keystone.

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Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is TOWNHALL MAGAZINE Managing Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lismeinecke.