MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesotans are enjoying cheaper gas prices than drivers in most other states.

The average cost in the Twin Cities right now is $2.98 a gallon.

That’s a near 30-cent drop in just the last month. And 30 cents cheaper than last fall.

So what’s different this year?

Well, the election is in three weeks, and a lot of people think what’s happening at the pumps has a lot to do with what’s happening at the polls.

The theory is that whoever’s president can somehow drop prices to help themselves and their fellow party members.

“I understand why people think that the president can change gas prices,” said political analyst Larry Jacobs.

Jacobs hears a lot this time of year. But he’s convinced this is out of the president’s control.

“It’s very difficult for a president to time the drop in fuel prices to an election,” said Jacobs.

The trend is there: During the 2012 election year, prices dropped about 25 cents from September to October.

And they dropped nearly a dollar in ’08.

But this is also the time of year when we switch to winter-blend gas, which is cheaper to produce and can cause gas prices to drop.

“It goes up and down with really nothing to do with elections,” said Jacobs. “It’s really the marketplace.”

Jacobs said concerns about the Middle East or the economy can send prices the other way, and it doesn’t matter if an election is right around the corner.

“I think if we are looking at the president, thinking he can move gas prices, we are giving him too much credit,” Jacobs said. “Let’s face it, there are a lot of other things going on in the world where you wish the President had that kind of power and control.”

Gas prices actually went up about 8 cents just before the 2004 election.

But again, experts said there are too many other variables at play.

They also think our recent drop has to do with increased fuel production in North Dakota.

The president can tap into fuel reserves to bring down prices, but that’s only in case of national emergencies.

John Lauritsen