Just days before pivotal midterm elections in the United States, motor club AAA on Friday reported that retail gasoline prices are flirting once again with $4 per gallon for the national average.
AAA on Friday showed California has the highest retail gasoline prices in the Lower 48 states with a $5.47 state average for a gallon of regular unleaded. Georgia has the lowest state average at $3.10 per gallon.
The national average retail price of $3.79 per gallon is a 3-cent increase from last week’s levels and 38 cents higher per gallon than at this same time last year. That’s a concern for U.S. President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats with just a few short days to go before Election Day on Tuesday.
A Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll found that most would-be voters feel the economy is heading in the wrong direction. A survey of 2,010 registered voters from Oct. 12-13 found only about a quarter of the respondents said the economy is on the right track and most felt their financial situation was deteriorating.
Asked whether they would be in favor of a U.S. energy sector less dependent on foreign suppliers and lower gasoline prices or higher gasoline prices with better climate protections, 80% said they’d rather have lower prices at the pump.
The Biden administration has tried a variety of measures to bring some relief, but there’s only so much the government can do because of the global nature of the commodities market. It’s the global price of crude oil that’s largely behind the price that consumers pay at the pump.
Brent, the global benchmark for the price of oil, is on pace for a 4% spike this week and is moving closer and closer to the $100 barrel mark. Brent hit a recent low of $88.60 per barrel in mid-October and is now priced at around $97 per barrel.
Meanwhile, supplies are tight. The Energy Department this week reported that domestic inventories of gasoline are about 6% below the five-year average for this time of year, though production did increase during the week ending Oct. 28.
“Tighter supply and fluctuating oil prices have put upward pressure on gasoline prices,” the latest report from AAA read. “Pump prices could continue to increase if supply remains tight alongside rising oil prices.”
Higher, however, may be a relative term. Gas prices hit an all-time high on June 14 at $5.02 per gallon.
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