Are Gas Prices Going Up After Elections?

Knoxville (WVLT) - Oil prices jumped more than a $1.33 Thursday, to $61 a barrel.

But even before that, drivers noticed as much as a ten cent jump in gas prices in the Knoxville area, seemingly overnight.

You spent November seventh at the polls.

Less than two days later, you're spending more at the pump.

Clearly, the oil companies have much at stake when it comes to who's in power in the world's largest consumer of fuel.

But were lower gas prices the result of politicians trying to influence your vote?

The experts said we would never see gas prices below two dollars a gallon again.

But then, there they were.

"Now that it's creeped back over two dollars again by a full dime, you just kind of have to wonder if that was in fact the last time we'll see it," says Knoxville motorist John Kennedy.

And it's not just here in East Tennessee.

Something, or someone, is driving up prices across the country.

"If you look out at the spot market and the futures market today, both for oil and for natural gas, you can see a substantial jump from the prices just yesterday," says UT Economic Professor Dr. Matt Murray.

Is it possible Saudi Arabia and other Gulf OPEC members conspired to keep prices low in an attempt to keep voters happy, and a certain party in power?

"It was interesting on the timing, wasn't it?" says Kennedy.

"Sounds like a conspiracy, well supply and demand I think is a big part of it," says Kristin Rearden, Knoxville Motorist.

UT Economics Professor Matt Murray says in fact, OPEC is lowering its fuel stockpiles in the US. "Now what's driving that? That's the million dollar question."

OPEC is lowering output and some members have said the group may further cut supply next month, when oil demand will near its winter peak in the us.

But is it all part of a coordinated effort to coincide with midterm elections?

"Very, very difficult to see how such an action could have been coordinated across so many wholesalers, so many producers across the country," Dr. Murray says.

Despite who or what is driving prices up, if past trends hold true, expect prices to continue to rise.

The question is... How high?

Coincidence or not, gas prices fell to their lowest level in more than ten months on November sixth, a day before the election.

The Federal Energy Information Administration says drivers were paying $2.20 a gallon on average for regular, that's nearly 18 cents lower than a year ago.