You know it as sure as you know the names of your kids, the day of the week and the last four numbers of your Social Security number.

I am talking about the gas station along your regular commute with the lowest price for gasoline. For me it is a Cumberland Farms on Main Street in Lewiston where the price per gallon is always a dime cheaper than what I see in Augusta.

The price of gasoline today is more than double what is was in the weeks before President Obama took office — the national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was just $1.68 at the end of 2008.

Energy policy will be a big issue in this year’s campaign for president. It is also one of the best examples of the challenge candidates face when it comes to bridging the divide between their base and the interests of the broader electorate.

The just-concluded national political conventions are a fascinating exercise of pomp, polish and political messaging. They are also events that bring together the most hyper-partisan political activists in the country.

The vast majority of political activists will never make a material impact on the outcome of an election or policy decision. The ship of state is hard to maneuver and there are very few who can point to an office holder or government action and say for certain that it would have been different were it not for their personal involvement.

A single activist banging doors for Obama this fall has just as much chance of winning the lottery as they do of actually making an actual impact on the outcome of the election. And unlike the gambler, there is no hope of personal gain.

Still activists persist. Giving up their Saturday mornings or evenings for party committee meetings, setting aside space in their garage so they can distribute lawn signs for candidates they have never met, and sending off small financial contributions for political causes.

While point of views will vary greatly among activists, they are united everywhere by a strength of conviction that is an ever-present complication for the candidates who rely on their unwavering support.

To put it another way, party activists can be a real pain in the neck, but it comes with the territory when dealing with people who care enough to devote time, energy and money to causes and campaigns.

With the political conventions and their platforms we see very real examples of where the interests of the political base causes some problems for candidates. The Obama campaign, for example, had to orchestrate an awkward revising of the Democratic platform to proclaim Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

The Republican platform includes immigration language that could cause problems among Hispanic swing-state voters and calls for a ban on abortion without an exception for rape or incest that most voters believe goes too far.

Fortunately for candidates seeking broader appeal, it is pretty easy to just ignore the party platform and move onto your own finely tuned narrative. You get some blowback from activists who expect strict adherence to the platform, but unfriendly feedback from a few is far better than spending campaign time arguing that government has a solution for newly pregnant rape victims. Bob Dole when running as the Republican nominee for president in 1996 took it a step further. When asked about a provision of the GOP platform he responded that he had never gotten around to reading it.

Gasoline prices and, more specifically, energy policy is an example where the strongly held environmental interests of the party base have made it very hard for President Obama to achieve any real success or any measure of political cover.

Restrictions on energy exploration on public lands, limits to off-shore drilling, and the regulatory costs and uncertainty of adding to our energy infrastructure under the Obama Administration have slowed the growth in domestic energy supply.

On the demand side much of the rhetoric and public investment from the administration has been focused on conservation and green energy alternatives that are nowhere near eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels.

On both supply and demand Obama is on solid footing with a political base concerned about the ecological impact of energy exploration and the need for alternative sources of power.

But the driving public is paying nearly $4 per gallon of gas. Voters would be right to question why Obama has not moved heaven, earth and maybe even a few Alaskan Caribou to lower gas prices.

Dan Demeritt, a Republican political consultant and public relations specialist, is a former campaign aide and communications director for Gov. Paul LePage. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @demerittdan