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Potential Political Fallout of Record High Gas Prices Across California

SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA) - On Monday, California hit a record high for gas prices, and in Los Angeles County prices are just cents away from record highs in 2012 with the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline coming in at $4.67.

In Orange County, the average price of a gallon of regular clocks in at $4.63 and its $4.59 in Riverside County.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous. If it gets any higher, it'll be cheaper to Uber" said Shira Astrof, summing up how many Angelenos feel about the prices at the pump.

Astrof runs an animal shelter and drives long distances for work.

"Spending tons of money and filling up my car, I feel like, all the time," she said.

Chasen Hunter came to the Valley to get her gas Monday.

"I was working in Beverly Hills today and it was at $6.19 on Rodeo Drive, which is like crazy," Hunter said.

Gas prices in Southern California just reached record highs. The reasons for the surging prices, according to experts, is actually the pandemic. When the economy was essentially shutdown, oil production was severely upended, but now demand is back up.

Dr. Leo Feler is a senior economist at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management.

"If you think back to 18 months ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, do you remember when gas was $1.00 a gallon? That wiped out a bunch of oil producers, and so we have demand really high. Supply still hasn't caught up, and so what we're seeing is rising gas prices," Feler said.

Jeffrey Spring, with the American Automotive Association, pointed out that oil is at more than $80 a barrel, making the situation even worse.

"The major rainstorm that came through Northern California a couple weeks ago did a pretty big number on the refineries up there and we had issues on the refineries the last week or two," Spring said.

Of course, though, the price of gas has become inherently political and it's the party in power that often gets the blame.

"The consequences are high when it comes to high gas prices. Voters do things like fill up their gas tanks, go to the market, all of these really affect people's daily lives. If it becomes more expensive to do the same things you were doing before, you start to blame those in power. Democrats have to be worried about these high inflation numbers, particularly gas prices," Loyola Law School Professor and Political Analyst Jessica Levinson said.

But of course the price of gas becomes inherently political. And the party in power often gets the blame. Loyola law professor and political analyst Jessica Levinson.

It didn't take long to find someone that proved her point.

"I have a feeling it has something to do with Biden, to be honest, but that's just my personal opinion," said Hunter.

It doesn't take long to find someone who proves that point.

However, experts also said relief could be in sight.

"I think they're getting through their problems with the refineries up north and we expect the same kind of thing happening here, where maintenance issues are behind them," Spring said.

Experts said that another reason to hope for some relief is that oil production is up in parts of the country, like Texas, and that could help prices here, though it may not be for another several months.

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