April 21, 2006

A tale of two maps.

I want you to look at two maps: The first one shows current gas prices around the country [Green = cheap; Dark orange = expensive]. The second map shows Dubya's popularity in US states, as of last month [Red = more popular; Blue = less popular].

Can you spot the interesting 'coincidences' that I did?

Where are gas prices the lowest?

View the full-sized version here.
[Map: GasBuddy.com]

Where is Dubya's approval the highest?

View the full-sized version here.
[Map: RadicalRuss.net]

Yep, you got it! The states where the gas prices are the lowest in the whole country [Utah, Idaho, Wyoming] are also three of the states where Dubya's popularity is highest. And, unless I remember wrongly, neither Utah or Idaho are big oil producers or big refining centers, which makes the low prices even more suspicious.

But that's not all folks!

Take a look at the gas map and notice that the states of New York, California, Maine, Connecticut, and [if you make sure to catch the bright red counties around Miami] Florida all have gas prices higher than most of the country. When you look at those states on the Dubya popularity map, those states 'coincidentally' happen to be ones where the prez's poll numbers are in the toilet. The links between gas prices and Dubya's popularity aren't one-to-one: Massachusetts has lower gas prices than most adjoining states, but Dubya's popularity is in the toilet. And Nebraska gives Dubya good popularity marks, but has much higher gas prices than adjoining states. But, to this magpie, these exceptions only seem to emphasize the rule.

Some people will make the case that these apparent links between gas prices and Dubya's poll numbers really are coincidental; that they mean nothing. Others will argue that the links exist, but that it's the high gas prices that are affecting Dubya's poll numbers, not the other way around. But there are also people who'll argue that at least part of the reason why oil companies are keeping prices low in the states where Dubya is popular is political payback for favors rendered. [We won't even mention the fact that VP Cheney hails from Wyoming.] And, I suppose, the really paranoid could spin even more convoluted scenarios.

You'll have to make up your own mind about what you think is going on.

Note: You can read a bit more speculation about oil company price-fixing at the bottom of the somewhat longer version of this post over at Magpie.

Posted by Magpie at April 21, 2006 12:01 AM | US Politics | Technorati links |

When I'm not on the road, I live in California and you can put me in the coincidental camp.

You also have to factor in state fuel taxes...


...State and Federal mandated Clean Air restrictions (California has some of the toughest, but they were necessary when you consider the deadly smog days of the 60s and 70s) that add to the costs of refining.

Utah, Montana and Wyoming actually do produce and refine a fair amount of oil for their populations.



Idaho is the outlier in your maps as they have no production and no refineries and their taxes are middling. I suppose Bush's popularity there has more to do with the ideology of the population of that state than the price of gasoline, wouldn't you agree??

Posted by: ascap_scab at April 21, 2006 03:52 AM

Perhaps this observation has cause and effect backwards... others have pointed out that President Bush's popularity fluctuates inversely with gasoline prices... so perhaps as gasoline prices go up, Bush's popularity goes down - not an elaborate conspiracy to divert oil supplies to "W" friendly states.

Posted by: Art Stone at April 21, 2006 09:53 AM

Interesting, but I would agree that there are numerous variables involved here...Why hasn't Bush shown even a modicum of leadership and rallied the US pop. to use less gas..that would be a small sacrifice for most citizens who don't have family members in Iraq/Afghanistan...oh, silly me...I guess that would mean less profits for his oil buddies...nevermind

Posted by: Moose at April 21, 2006 12:48 PM

Those 3 states also have some of the lowest numbers of soldiers that have died in Iraq.

Posted by: jerri at April 21, 2006 08:41 PM

Wow, 2.33 is now the defination of cheap gas. I can remember a few years ago when 2 bucks a gallon was khraaazee.

Posted by: Carl Ballard at April 22, 2006 12:02 PM

I paid $2.22 a gal to fill my ride Friday...


Posted by: NeoN D. SuRFeR at April 23, 2006 06:53 AM

I still remember when gas was 79 cents across the street from my school. I could fill up on 8.00. Now its 3.09. And I have ot have a spacious car to carry my four kids around (quadruplets) so I have a gas guzzler. We all couldn't fit into my escort anymore. 65.00 to fill up an old explorer. And I live in Texas. If the theories were right, Bush still has a high support here in Texas, and this is his home state. Why wouldn't he give a break to his home state if those maps were true? Its all a joke to me and I can hear CEO's of oil companies and the President laugh everytime I pull into the gas station.

Posted by: Texan at April 24, 2006 09:56 AM

I think there's something wrong with the first map. It only goes up to 3.31 USD/gallon. We're currently paying the equivalent of 6.25 USD/gallon (.94 GBP/litre).

It all sounds cheap to me!

Well gotta go catch the bus!

Posted by: yank in london at April 27, 2006 07:12 AM

My God. They're making sure he keeps the Senate.

Posted by: Michael at April 27, 2006 07:27 AM

A link to a list of refineries with out put here

Utah has a smalll population (less than two million people, but four refineries along the Wasatch Front. Gas prices consequently have tended to be well below the national average, though I did see a first sign for over three dollars yesterday.

Posted by: The Heretik at April 27, 2006 01:48 PM