The Oil Industry's Ability to Affect American Elections
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The purpose of this research is two-fold. The first purpose is to determine if historical U.S. domestic gasoline prices imply a causal relationship between gas prices and national elections. The rate of change in U.S. gasoline prices between August and November from 1976 to 2006 is analyzed to determine if there is a statistically significant difference between the rates of change dependent upon the existence of a national election. The second purpose of this research is to examine the reasons behind any year in which a rate of change for gasoline prices appears to be significantly different from the norm. Analysis is conducted to determine if the abnormal rate of change is in a direction that benefits candidates that belong to a political party which is historically more aligned with the interests of the oil industry. A notion among many Americans exists that the oil industry has manipulated gasoline prices in the past for the purpose of affecting American election outcomes. The literature reviewed for this research illustrates that the oil industry is very involved in politics. The literature also illustrates that the oil industry has the ability to manipulate gasoline prices and that gasoline prices are a strong influence on the way individuals vote. The research shows that the oil industry has the motive and ability to manipulate gasoline prices for the purpose of attempting to affect American elections. Statistical analysis is, therefore, conducted to determine if there is empirical evidence that implies that gas prices actually have been manipulated in the past for the purpose of affecting election outcomes. The analyses conducted for this research did not provide any statistically significant evidence that implies gas prices have been manipulated between 1976 and 2006 for the purpose of affecting American elections. Several years showcased a rate of change in gasoline prices from August to November that appeared to be significantly different than the normal rate of change. Of those years, only 1986 contained elements of a political landscape that supported the idea that the price change for that year was purposefully initiated for the purpose of affecting that year's national election.