An employee holds a gas pump to refill a car at a petrol station in central Seoul
Rising prices at the pump could help determine the outcome of the 2012 election. REUTERS

With spiraling gas prices figuring to play a prominent role in the 2012 election, voters trust President Barack Obama more than Republican lawmakers to tame prices at the pump.

A New York Times/CBS News poll released on Monday saw Obama's approval rating plunge to 41 percent, and news outlets speculated that the high cost of gas could be playing a role. But a new United Technologies/National Journal poll found that Americans trusted the president over congressional Republicans to make decisions that would bring down the price of gasoline by a 44 percent to 32 percent margin.

The president has limited power to immediately affect the cost of gasoline, although most voters appear to believe otherwise. Still, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has made gasoline a centerpiece of his campaign with advertisements promising $2.50 a gallon gas if Gingrich is elected.

Since Barack Obama's inauguration, gas prices have doubled, the advertisement's narrator says.

Obama has sought to counteract the Republican offensive, releasing a statement on Monday acknowledging that there is more work to do free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and take control of our energy future while chiding Republicans for offering misleading campaign promises.

You can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas, Obama said in late February. I'll save you the suspense. Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling.