Breanne Deppisch writes for the Washington Examiner about outside influence on President Biden’s future.

OPEC and its allies could play a major role in the outcome of the U.S. presidential election this November, as observers watch closely for signs that the world’s two largest oil exporting nations, Saudi Arabia and Russia, will raise prices by cutting production.

Keeping in place voluntary cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day on top of the cartel’s total combined production cuts of 5.86 million bpd could push up gas prices in the U.S., which are closely tied to presidential approval ratings and have been a thorn in the side of President Joe Biden during his first term.

But unlike his early years in the White House, Biden now has far fewer resources at his disposal to help alleviate gas prices — including a depleted U.S. emergency oil stockpile and a more emboldened OPEC+, which has showed it is willing to buck U.S. requests in favor of their own bottom lines.

OPEC+ “is going to do what they believe is in their best interests,” Gerald Feierstein, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, told the Washington Examiner in an interview. 

“And they’re going to pursue that regardless of who’s in the White House and what U.S. preferences might be,” he added.

Gas prices and presidential approval ratings are closely linked and have been a major feature during Biden’s first term — including in the months ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

A combination of post-COVID industrial activity and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent Brent crude futures north of $130 per barrel in early 2022, causing U.S. gas prices to a record-high national average of $5.02 per gallon to mark the start of summer driving season. Biden’s approval ratings took a direct hit, bottoming out at just 38% in the weeks that followed.