We’re seeing a lot more electric vehicles today, but they’re still a small fraction of automobiles that are on the road. Our society is still heavily dependent on gas-driven vehicles, which means the price at the pump is still a topic of interest.
There are two truths to gas prices. 1.) They are volatile. The price of gas goes up and down all the time for a number of reasons. 2.) Overall the price for gasoline is going up.
But if you’re the type that’s into politics you probably aren’t just paying attention to the price per gallon at the gas station. You’re probably looking for a reason behind the price increases. With both parties pointing a finger at each other for the rising cost of a gallon of gas, we wanted to know:
“Have gas prices traditionally been higher under Democratic or Republican presidents?”
Interesting Insights Into Presidents and Gas Prices
To answer that question we took a look at every presidential term since vehicles became mainstream. Then to make a completely fair assessment, we took note of the actual price paid for a gallon of gas at the time and what the price would be if it was adjusted for 2020 inflation. Each gas price listed is an average for the length of that president’s term.
We’ve also taken note of any major world events that might have affected the price of oil during that president’s term. Because all it takes is a large hurricane or signs of a recession to throw the numbers way off from the average.
The infograph here provides an overview of how gas prices have fluctuated from one President to the next. A few interesting insights include:
When you factor in inflation, gas prices weren’t much different 100 years ago than they are today on average. And in some cases it was actually more expensive in the past.
Democrats were in office during both World Wars, and both global conflicts severely affected oil supply in a negative way. During both of these periods the cost of gasoline increased significantly.
Both parties had to handle major financial events. Republicans Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were in office during the Great Depression. Then Democrat Barack Obama was the President during the Great Recession.
The lowest gas prices of all time were during a Democratic term in office when Bill Clinton was the President. But Democrats also had the 2nd and 3rd highest gas price averages.
More major oil findings and advancements have happened during Republican presidencies.
Presidents Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt are proof that adjusting for inflation is important. Both Presidents averaged the same gas price during their terms, but when the prices are adjusted for inflation they are lower during Roosevelt’s time in office.
The very clear takeaway is that which party wins the presidency has less of an impact on gasoline prices than supply and demand. That usually isn’t dictated by who is president but rather world events that either negatively/positively affect the supply chain or increase/decrease demand for gasoline.
Want some tips on how to save gas? Check out our post here to learn more!
*This article was updated on 7/21/2021.