Have Gas Prices Have Been Manipulated for the Elections?

Nearly 42% of American drivers believe the Bush administration has deliberately manipulated gas prices so that they would fall just in time for mid-term elections, according to a recent Gallup poll (courtesy of an MSN article). 

However, these results may be tempered by the fact that Gallup goes on to state that of the 42% who think President Bush has manipulated gas prices, two-thirds are registered Democrats.

Regardless, as I pointed out in my own “Are Gas Prices Being Manipulated” post, there is ample ammunition for those who believe in this conspiracy theory.  For example:

The Republican Party is pro Big Oil and Big Oil is pro Republican Party.  In general, the Republican Party is very pro business and, for the most part, is very relaxed with government regulations that “restrict” said businesses.  That being said, it appears that the Republican Party has a particular interest in helping “Big Oil” succeed considering oil and gas companies contribute large sums of money to the Republican Party.

According to OpenSecrets.org, the website of the Center of Responsive Politics (a group that tracks campaign donations and funding) oil and gas companies contributed over $25 million towards the 2004 elections and have currently contributed over $12 million towards the 2006 elections.  Here is the breakdown as to which party got what:

2004: $25,652,689

  • Republicans – $20,857,439 – 80%
  • Democrats – $5,038,885 – 20%

2006: $12,585,277

  • Republicans – $10,453,581 – 83%
  • Democrats – $2,108,631 – 17%

Obviously, the Republican Party and Big Oil have a vested interest in each other’s continued success.

Oil/gas prices dropped prior to the 2004 election, too.  While not on the same scale, there was a spike in gas prices during September of 2004, when gas rose from roughly $1.75 per gallon to $2.25 per gallon, only to fall back to normal levels just as elections were approaching.

This price increase was relatively unusual considering the price of gas traditionally begins to decrease in September, not increase.

However, it appears there is much more rational, concrete evidence to point to the likelihood that the Republican Party has nothing to do with the recent rise and fall of gas prices:

Look at the price chart for 2005; it’s an identical image of 2006 gas prices.  Check out this chart from Gasbuddy.com which shows the spike in gas prices during the last two summers.  The past two summers are almost a perfect match – gas prices rise dramatically during July and August with a steep decline occurring towards the beginning of September lasting until Thanksgiving.

Now, if 2005 were an election year, I would point to this as evidence that gas prices were being manipulated.  However, since 2005 was not an election year, one has to assume that the recent gas prices are more cyclical in nature than caused by some Republican conspiracy.

World wide gas and oil prices are coming off of record highs, it’s not just happening in the United States.  Again, if there was a dramatic rise and fall of gas prices only in the United States it would be easy to say it was part of a conspiracy.  However, the entire world was affected by the dramatic spike in oil/gas prices and the entire world is enjoying the benefits of decreased prices.

If you’re looking to place blame for the recent spike and fall of oil and gas prices, I would suggest looking at the commodity traders that built a lot of baseless claims into the price of oil this summer.  It seems all we heard this summer were reasons why the traders continually bid up the price of oil:

  • This was supposed to be the worst summer in recent memory regarding the frequency and strength of hurricanes.
  • Increased consumption from India and China was supposed to wipe out world wide inventory levels.
  • World War III was inevitable.
  • OPEC was going to squeeze the Western World and take oil prices up to $100 per barrel or higher.

Obviously, none of this happened, however the commodity traders were allowed to build all of these fears into the price of oil, which obviously caused the price of gasoline to shoot up.

If you’re going to blame anyone, I would start with commodity traders and avoid wild conspiracy theories.


  1. So the points of the article are contradicting itself? What are you getting at?

  2. This is only a small percentage of the obvious manipulation of the American people by the Bush administration. Let’s hope the American people have tired of bending over for corporate politics.

  3. You provide one piece of evidence and that is “the gas prices went down before the election last year.” That’s it, and the two lines don’t look that much the same either. Plus it’s not seasonally adjusted (however one would do that).

    You make some other points that are easily dealt with:

    * This was supposed to be the worst summer in recent memory regarding the frequency and strength of hurricanes.
    …as forecast by climatologists.

    * Increased consumption from India and China was supposed to wipe out world wide inventory levels.
    …as forecast by noone since not even whacko hippies think peak oil was supposed to be this year

    * World War III was inevitable.
    …as forecast by a Fox News pundit.

    * OPEC was going to squeeze the Western World and take oil prices up to $100 per barrel or higher.
    …as forecast by commodity traders.

    That’s the only field commodity traders coould even HOPE to try something like this while they know its not true. They forecast based on the same data everyone else uses. You could blame OPEC, but OPEC is not a “commodity trader.”

    The real deal is that the government does whatever the farking oil companies say and gives them money. Who knows all the things the people in the government get in return but they certainly get something (like Condoleezza’s oil tanker for instance), and the American public certainly gets next to nothing.

  4. …gas prices rise dramatically during July and August with a steep decline occurring towards the beginning of September lasting until Thanksgiving.

    No, gas prices this year started droping in the BEGINNING of August…during the height of summer driving season. That’s what made me go “Hmmmmm”.

  5. Don’t just look at GasBuddy.com’s overall average. Look at the average state-by-state. The states with closely contested elections (Ohio, Missouri, NJ) have much larger drops than the neighboring states without closely contested elections. NJ is down much more than NY where the races are pretty much decided.

    That’s the most interesting detail to me.

  6. I think historically gas prices do begin to come down in September but only (in the US) after the Labor Day holiday. This year prices began to fall during August, and actually fell *over the course* of the Labor Day weekend. That’s the first time I can remember that happening.

    I agree it’s hard to imagine in a complex oil economy how one party could manipulate the market to make prices fall just prior to the election. But it’s a bit easier to imagine how they could manipulate the market to make prices increase in the months before that, and then cease the manipulation so that they return to “normal”.

  7. Doug Ancil says

    And if you believe Bob Woodward here is an article thats interesting:


    The Article is titled simply: “Oil Price Manipulation as Part of GOP Election Strategy?”

    I think its almost fair to say at this point that a LOT of people in this administration have got dirty hands, if not just dirty minds.

  8. It’s obvious to anyone with open eyes that oil prices have been manipulated.
    Why would the government keep adding to the U.S. oil reserves, when the oil is at peak prices?
    Why would the administration cast doubt on some of the most respected scientists in the world regarding global warming?
    Why would the administration invade a country that, while an evil dictatorship, is not really endangering the U.S, while other countries are more dangerous? (ie, N. Korea pops up)
    Why would the administration constantly insult and anger a previously friendly country, that is now has large oil interests? (Venuzela)
    Why would the government roll back clean air standards, and withdraw from international agreements?
    Why would the government not give incentives for alternative energy?

    Individually I might attribute any of the above questions to various ideas or goals. However put together , in a 6 year stint, from an administration that COMES FROM the oil industry, I can only say…. The current administration has a vested interest in the U.S. oil industry. I might as well have a U.S. oil CEO in the white house.

  9. Wayne Williams says

    So the Bush Administration manipulates the price of oil? How does it do that? And as for the allegations of it going down in time for the elections… Last November the price of gas at the Wawa down the street from my house was $1.84 per gallon for regular. Right now, it’s $1.99. There were no elections last year, so that throws that conspiracy theory out the window.

    And why does gas go up every summer and down in the winter? I believe that happened under Clinton, just like it’s happening now.

    So once again, exactly HOW does any sitting President control the price of a barrel of light sweed crude?

  10. Perhaps the members of the Plunge Protection Team are selling to drive down the cost. Then as soon as the election is over, up goes the balloon again. Read about the PPT, then you decide what’s going on.

  11. I just have to ask the conspircy therorists: How on Earth are the Republicans going to manipulate gas prices? How? It just doesn’t make any sense. Crude oil is a commodity, it’s publicly traded. To manipulate gas prices, Republicans would have to flood the market with cheap crude (where would they get it?) and undermine the trader positions. I don’t see that phase of the plan working because all the commodity traders would lose massive amounts of money. Even if that phase of a “Republican Master Plan” worked, now the refiners are not able to make their spreads, causing them to lose money. I think that kills the “big oil” manipulation theroy, because as we all know, big oil sleeps better when they are making SCADS of money. Now the wholesalers are going to have to deal with this flooded market. To put it simply, wholesalers are going to get rid of the product the had in inventory before the market flood, and deal with the cheaper product meaning they are going to lose money twice. Now we have to look at the dealers. Most of these people are small business owners. I just can’t fathom that these people are picking up the phone when the Republican Party calls, and giving a hearty “You betcha!” when the party asks them to take a loss for the good of the party come election time.

    The Republicans are too greedy to spend the kind of money it would take to undermine the market. And I just cannot believe that anyone would be willing to risk crushing the market for a few votes…

  12. The price of oil was bid up due to the factors above. There was plenty of fear in the market and traders and hedge funds took advantage of that to make money. Once the chance of war with Iran lessened, coinciding with the end of summer as well as China and India not consuming as much oil, well then traders and funds decided to trim their long positions. This resulted in downward pressure on the price of crude. That is it. That is why gas prices are lower.
    And if it somehow was a Republican scheme to get lower prices then why has OPEC acted to lower their production? Because we all know Saudi Arabia is controlled by Bush so why would thye go along with this so close to an election? OPEC did this because they knew that oil prices were artificially high and they have had to act to stabilize prices. That is all.

  13. Larry Watkins says

    Hurricane Katrina had a lot to with the sudden rise and fall of gas prices last year.

  14. i don’t think its true, gas prices are up in other countries aswell, for example UK government couldn’t have raised theirs to $2 a littre could they?

  15. This issue must be viewed with open eyes.
    The conspiracy theorists could very well be right. The American government has extremely complex and deep seeted dealinggs in the finacial world. Anyone who knows a bit about the history of the country and is not blinded by patriotism can see that there ARE sinister goings on behind the scenes of not just the US government but also the UK governments. (yes “government(s)” Scotland now has its own government) although I strongly belive that all of these governments are basically one group.

    Just for the record, average petrol prices here in the UK are are around £1.08 which i think works out at around $2.13! Strangely enough, though, American military bases over here pay US 36p per litre and UK military pay 66p per litre and it is a fact that, very often, the same fuel delivery truck, with the same load, will deliver to both U.S. and U.K. bases.

    I could go on for much longer but here is not the place. By the way I am not writing this as an englishman. I am writing this as a person. Its is time we stopped referring to these problems in terms of “the americans did this” or the “english did that.” we must remember that when we refer to our countries this way about political matters we are refering (most often anyway) not to the members of the public but to our governments. confusion in this matter is what leads to racism.

  16. Lou in Cary NC says

    Short memory prevails for the that other percentage of folks regarding gas manipulation.
    Connect the dots. You can see this pattern developes at every election period. The Oil Companies do not want the Gas and home heating prices to effect the election of a Republican. They think that we will forget the over the top prices that we suffered through for over a year. By the way, when Oil per barrel prices raise $1.00, in the matter of moments, the gasoline prices raise. Oil per barrel has dropped by nearly 50% and the prices at the pump have been insignificantly lower. What gives?

  17. In fact, if this guy comes out, I think he should have to be accepted into the gay community. ,

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