Your hunch at the gas pump was right. In advance of recent federal elections, oil companies seemed to have lowered gas prices--a move that's benefited the party in power: Republicans. But now there's conclusive evidence that you weren't nuts.
Last week, the good folks over at The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights released data demonstrating that oil companies sharply reduced gas prices in the months before the last three federal elections. After the Republicans retained their political power in the 2002 and 2004 elections our gas prices rose, according to the data.
"This pattern of the last three election years is an indication that motorists who smell something fishy in the rollercoaster prices they've endured this year may be on to something," said FTCR President Jamie Court. "The rise to record high gasoline prices this spring unleashed a wave of justified criticism of bloated oil company profits. Now the price drop in the pre-election period, by a percentage well beyond reductions in the price of oil, smells just as bad."
Oil industry lobbyists--fearful that Democrats might launch probes into price fixing allegations--have made no secret of their desire for Republicans to retain power of Congress. The industry has given a whopping $80 million to national Republican candidates in just the last six years. In current races for Congress, nearly 85 percent of oil bidness (sorry, it's from my Texas past) money has been funneled to GOP lawmakers.
But the biggest gift to Republicans was at the pumps.
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Wall Street oil analyst Andy LaPerriere admitted to a national TV audience last week, "You see what appears to be almost a perfect correlation that the president's approval is really driven by gas prices."
Still, LaPerriere says it's "preposterous" for anyone to believe the lower prices are anything more than a coincidence.
Who's willing to bet that gas prices won't rise again in the weeks following this election?