Fox News polls registered voters on whether they believe the claim (widely echoed by leading Republicans and conservative opinion-makers) that Obama wants higher gas prices, and gets the wrong answer:

And what about President Obama — which of the following do you think better describes how he feels about increasing gas prices?

Happy — because it will encourage the United States to find alternative energy sources: 31

Unhappy — because the American people will suffer from the high cost of filling their tank: 50

The subtext to this attack is what’s important — it advances the storyline that Obama harbors an elitist agenda that’s fundamentally at odds with what’s good for ordinary Americans, and worse, that on some basic level, he doesn’t really wish them well. But this looks like one of those cases where the right’s conspiracy-mongering about Obama simply doesn’t square with voter perceptions of the man. Right wing talk radio has been hopping with all sorts of lurid variations of the crazy gas prices conspiracy theory. But less than a third of the country is listening.

By the way, the Fox poll also finds that 58 percent of Americans think the economy has started to turn around, versus only 40 percent who don’t. Those numbers were upside down as recently as early January, suggesting perhaps that three consecutive monthly reports that the private sector added over 200,000 jobs could be sinking in with the public.

Also: For the first time in Fox polling since January of 2010, a plurality says the Obama administration has made the economy better, though the 44-42 spread is within the margin of error.


UPDATE: One other finding: Asked if the Obama administration’s policies, including opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, are responsible for raising gas prices, Americans say No by 52-40.

However, that’s overshadowed by the fact that respondents disapprove of what Obama is doing on the issue, 61-26, which is bad, though it’s a bit difficult to see how those two findings square.