Michigan Gas Prices Drop Sharply

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The leaves aren't the only things falling fast right now, Lansing area gas prices dropped nearly 30 cents last week. Michigan's average is now below the national for the first time in five months, leaving some wondering if the plunge could impact the presidential race.

Eight of the 11 most contested states have seen improvement at the pump. According to AAA, Michigan along with Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin and Colorado are below the national average.
Considering voters often measure the economy at the pump, the drop could help out the Obama campaign.

Marley Whitt of Mason said the drop left her tickled pink.

"I don't know if it's because of the the presidential debate or what, but I noticed them going down and yesterday I thought go home and get the gas cans," Whitt said, filling up her car and several cans.

Lansing drivers were paying as little as $3.31 a gallon Monday, a big improvement from August when Michigan gas was among the highest in the nation.

"As long as we don't have any disruption in supply and things follow historical trends I think we would continue to see the low gas prices that we're seeing now," Mark Griffin, President of the Michigan Petroleum Association said.

Griffin says steady crude prices have helped cut the cost, as has a major Detroit refinery going back on line and the seasonal switch from summer to winter blends.

"Going into winter demand curtails sharply and we have winter gas which is typically five to seven cents a gallon cheaper to make," Griffin added.

According to price tracking website GasBuddy.com, it is rare to see this kind of drop in one week's time. The website says it has only happened once in recent years, in May 2011.

While rare, political experts say the drop won't have much impact on the election.

"It's more visible than other indicators but it still wouldn't override all of the other things that you're using to measure how the economy is going," Assistant Professor of Political Science Matt Grossmann, with Michigan State University said. "In general, when people judge the state of the national economy they do it with more information than just gas prices."

Plus, Grossmann says most voters have already made their presidential choice.

Nationally gas fell nine cents last week to an average $3.67 a gallon. That price is expected to drop to $3.35 by late November.

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