The turmoil in the Middle East appears to have many Americans girding for pain at the pump.
A new Gallup survey out Thursday finds that Americans, on average, are expecting to pay $4.36 a gallon for gas this year. About one in four are expecting $5-a-gallon gas.
That would be a huge increase over current prices. The respondents reported an average gas price of $3.45 a gallon when they were surveyed between March 3 and March 6.
The price of gas has skyrocketed in recent weeks as uncertainty in the Middle East has pushed oil prices up sharply.
For many, a sudden rise in gas prices brings back memories of 2008, when gas and food prices surged just as the economy was sinking.
This time around, however, there’s evidence that Americans are more prepared for higher gas prices. As The New York Times noted earlier this week, in the past three years many Americans have traded in gas guzzlers for gas sippers, and they have made other accommodations to lessen their pain at the pump.
Still, a spike in oil prices is not without consequences. As msnbc.com’s John Schoen reported last month, a big increase in the cost of energy could hamper the fragile global economic recovery.