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If Presidential Elections Don't Determine Gas Prices, What Does?
Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on November 22, 2012 @ 12:22AM
Created on November 21, 2012 @ 5:39PM
Last week on 5 News, we asked if you thought a presidential election was the driving factor behind gas prices during election season.
 
We found out that's not the case.
 
"Gas prices drop this time of year pretty much every year no matter what is going on, whether there is an election or not an election," says AAA spokesperson Michael Green.
 
He goes on to say, "Fewer people are driving as it gets into the colder months in comparison to the summer travel season.  So, as a result, demand drops.  Whenever demand drops, you're likely to see gas prices drop as well."
 
Supply and demand.  It's a familiar concept, and the perception alone of that idea in the market might have something to do with the prices you see when you fill up.

"It's not the actual supply and demand that moment.  But, if you feel that there's some reason that the supply might be disrupted for some political reasons, then the price starts going up because the people feel the supply may not be there," says Kashy Aminian, Professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at West Virginia University.
 
Some of those uncertainties include unrest in parts of the Middle East where oil is produced, or wars around the world or even the state of the economy right here at home at any given time.  Those all impact the dollars and cents you shell out for a tank.

"Economy as a whole has an impact.  When we are in a slow economic period, the demand for oil goes down, typically.  If you are in an expanding economic period, the demand will go up," adds Aminian.
 
Oil prices aren't controlled by just one company.  In fact, we use about 18 million barrels a day here in the United States, 10 million of which actually come from our own supply.  Simply put, no matter how much we consume, there's an easy formula to figure out what the signs at your favorite gas station tell you how much your fill up will cost.
 
"The price of gasoline that you pay at the pump is controlled by oil prices plus whatever taxes and other charges that would be added," says Aminian.
 
Speaking of those taxes and fees, West Virginia ranks 11th nationally at an average of about $.33 a gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

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