Gas Prices Are Down But Are They Tied To The Elections?

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You know, I really wanted to jump for joy as we pumped that $2.89 per gallon of gas over the weekend here in DC, but I just couldn’t.  I’ve lived here for 5 years now and it never fails that whenever there’s an election be it local (primary) or national (presidential) that gas prices drop.


I don’t mean to inject politics into this blog because we are a personal finance blog but I’d like to discuss this issue, so feel free to skip this article if it doesn’t interest you.

Think about it.  Well here in DC metro anyway, whenever a senate, congressional, gubernatorial or presidential election looms, gas prices magically come down, but otherwise they’re sky high.  I feel like a damn yo-yo at times because just a few months ago I posted about the high gas prices and how it cost $70 to fill my then 2 door car.  Now?  $45.  Sure, I’m happy with the lower prices but I hate feeling like my purse strings are being manipulated for some greater reason unbeknownst to me.

I can’t call the reason behind it but this is a pattern I’ve noticed over the years living here.  So, Im not sure what goes on where you live but let me know if you see a pattern.

What do you think?  Here’s a chart that depicts the gas price trends following the different elections we’ve had over the last 6 years.  What say you?  It’s election season, humor me.

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  • Katie Buck

    good luck

  • Susanne Stevens

    good luck

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  • Ginger

    Ohh there are TONS! LOL I dont mind it, just not here.

    About the chart, yes I wished that it went back 20 or so years so that we can really see the progression. I dont think that any of the widely speculated reasons for increases are true though.

    About the prices, that’s interesting. I think there were some manipulations going on behind the scenes on both ends.

  • AnnJo

    Ginger, thanks for clarifying. I do support McCain, but I hope I rarely descend into snark. I’m sorry that that’s not true for some of my fellow McCain supporters. Every candidate draws some nut cases, it seems, and I don’t blame you at all for wanting to keep this blog clear of them.

    Found the Gasbuddy chart but (sigh), it doesn’t go back farther than six years. It shows Canada prices as well, which pretty much track US prices but at a much higher level (I’m guessing their gas taxes are higher).

    The shocking thing about that chart is how gas prices managed to rise as moderately as they did considering how high oil prices went!

  • Ginger

    Annjo, no worries, Ive had to deal with more than a few snarky readers today and your comment came across as a McCain supporter seeking me out to start an argument. Since I rarely if ever (have I?) get into that mess here I thought you were one of them.

    Back to the point…

    I see where you’re coming from and I dont think elections are the only reason but just part of it. Hey I may be wrong but just wanted to see what others were thinking about this issue.

  • AnnJo

    Hi, Ginger,

    I’m not sure why you tell me you can track me?

    Nor did I mean to imply that you SAID whom you supported. I just inferred it from what you wrote in this post (which is only the second time I’ve read your blog, and I haven’t read you on Twitter nor did I know you reported from the DNC, which must have been fun).

    I didn’t expect you to agree with the theories I tossed out; my point is in fact the opposite, that when I know I have a predisposing political inclination, I have to be extra careful not to allow my imagination to run wild in support of it. Which is why I don’t necessarily believe those theories myself.

    So you don’t think seasonality of demand could account for the correlation the chart shows? I mean, elections are always in the Fall, soon after summer gas demand has started to drop.

    I didn’t see the GasBuddy reference on the chart. (Still don’t actually.) Thanks. I’m off to investigate it.

  • Ginger

    AnJo? Cute but No. Remember I have trackers on this blog that tell me where you came from and I know what I write and dont write here.

    I laid out the chart pretty clearly in my post by stating that I believe they are tied to the elections. I never stated anything about the Dems or Repubs being in power or who won the races.

    Yes, I am an Obama supporter and dislike Bush but you probably got that from my Tweets on Twitter or by reading my posts from the DNC over the summer. Nothing in my posts states that I am a supporter of either party.

    I think there are many reasons why gas prices increase on or around election season but the one that resonates with me is the rising emotions of consumers when it comes to gas prices. There have been MANY MANY theories about this, none of which seem to really stick. However this is something Ive never really seen discussed in national media.

    Now if you want to talk politics with me, see me on Twitter @Gingerlatte but Im not for all of that Obama vs McCain on this blog. Time and place for everything.

    And, as the chart says I got this from, you can go there and create your own charts based on different periods of time.

    Please and thank you.

    Ginger’s last blog post..Reader Mail: Will Children From Previous Marriage Inherit Joint Property With Current Spouse?

  • AnnJo

    When politicians you don’t like are in power or about to get in power, it’s very easy to put your rationality at the service of your bias.

    Gasoline usage always increases dramatically in the summer months due to agricultural needs and recreational travel. Most of the nation’s RVs, for instance, are parked for the winter months and only hit the roads in the summer. Driving teens are out of school. Days are longer encouraging evening travel. Lawns everywhere are being mowed. Instead of driving 10 minutes to the movie theater for entertainment, people drive 60 or 160 miles to the beach.

    Higher seasonal demand causes higher prices. No big conspiracy.

    Now if you want election-related conspiracy theories, try these:

    Theory 1:

    Facts: George Soros is a passionate backer of and multi-million dollar contributor to Barack Obama. Obama’s campaign has been dramatically helped by the current economic crisis. George Soros has direct experience in creating economic crises (England, 1992; Indonesia/Asian currency markets, 1997). Theory: George Soros triggered our economic crisis to aid Obama’s election.

    Theory 2:

    Facts: Rabid anti-Bush despots like Hugo Chavez of oil-rich Venezuela, Ahmadinejad of oil-rich Iran and Putin of oil-rich Russia have the ability to manipulate oil prices. Rapidly escalating oil prices initially seemed likely to work against the party holding the Presidency (Republicans). Oil prices escalated rapidly. Republicans responded with the call to “Drill, drill, drill” and Americans responded positively to that call, putting at risk not only the election of Obama, but the lock on oil supplies by the manipulators. Soon, oil prices started to plummet. Theory: The oil spike of the last few months was caused by market manipulations by foreign dictators in aid of Obama’s campaign and they reversed course when it seemed like it might backfire.

    The fact that these theories even occur to me probably tells you I’m a McCain supporter, just like the fact that your theory occurred to you tells me you’re an Obama supporter. But our biases should make us think twice before accepting any of them. About all we can say of any of them is: It’s possible, but who knows?

    The chart is really neat though. Do you know if it’s inflation-adjusted? I didn’t see a link to it; could you post it? I’d be interested in seeing the chart over a longer period of time, especially back to the last major gas price crisis in the 1970s.

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  • CreoleInDC

    I don’t know. I think they are more tied to the holidays spending season coming but then again I was never snowballed enough to believe there is a conspiracy theory surrounding EVERYTHING.

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  • Kevin Cafferty

    And still the line trends upwards.

    To quote Charlie Brown: “Sigh”

    Kevin Cafferty’s last blog post..FDIC Says Government will Prevent Avoidable Foreclosures

  • ~Y

    I’d never picked up on the correlation before. An interesting theory…

    ~Y’s last blog post..Sweet to Spooky Halloween Fun

  • Sara

    I see your pattern, but sorry, the world doesn’t actually revolve around the US elections, despite what most Americans think and what newspapers and journalists seem to say. Come on, say it, its not hard – “recession”.

  • Josh Maxwell

    You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, I?ve spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.