Do dropping gas prices have anything to do with election?

Posted at 7:11 PM, Oct 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-22 19:11:27-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Experts say that the price for a gallon of gas is dropping across the nation.

And key swing states like Virginia, the politics of the gas pump could impact November’s presidential election.  So what’s causing the drop?

At the Quick and Easy gas station on Three Chopt Road in Henrico, drivers pay only $3.19 a gallon for gas.  That makes it one of the cheapest places for gas in town.

"I called my husband and I told him you better get yourself over here if you want this gas,” says Betty McTighe, a Richmond resident.

Before too long though, industry experts expect $3.19 a gallon to sit closer to the average price for a gallon of gas in Central Virginia.

Right now, the average is $3.46 a gallon in Richmond.  AAA Mid Atlantic projects that number to drop 15-45 cents in the next three weeks.

“Typically we start to see the gas prices drop around Labor Day, and we've had a little bit of postponement this year.  So we're finally seeing those fall prices coming to the pumps.  You can anticipate 5-15 cents per week,” says Windy Van Curen of AAA Mid Atlantic.

The price drop is expected to be seen nationwide.

Experts point to slowing demand and lessening fears over a supply shortage on the West Coast, which led to what Windy Van Curen calls "panic buying" from suppliers.

“Now that that's over there's some panic selling because whole sale prices are starting to collapse because people are selling those stocks of gas they hurried and bought up,” Van Curen says.

But around election time, the politics of the gas pump are always a topic.

Some political analysts say gas prices that dip in key swing states, like Virginia, could mark a political victory for President Barak Obama's re-election bid.

“A lot of people like to say there are conspiracy theories and the prices are going to drop right before the election, but this has nothing to do with the election,” Van Curen says.

“I remember back in the day when it was an art,” Kyle McCall says, as he fills up his tank of gas at the Quick and Easy on Three Chopt Road.

McCall drives around 700-800 miles a week for work, so he says the cash saved from dropping prices at the pump is what's important to him.  Falling prices also help McCall with peace of mind.

“I don't feel the need to stop off every five seconds I see a gas station with a decent price because I know it's going to be there later on,”  McCall says.