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Gas Prices Now A Big Factor In Presidential Election

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It might be one of the biggest issues in the upcoming presidential election. Last night, CBS News exit polls found 77 percent of those voting in seven Super Tuesday states say rising gas prices were an important factor in their vote.

The poll reflects growing consumer anxiety as gas prices have risen nearly 50 cents a gallon in just over two months.

Consumers have been telling us they are cutting corners because for most driving is a necessity.

In Minnesota the average price is 3-58. The current national average for a gallon of regular is 3-76, but some analysts are predicting that gas could rise to $5 by the summer.

When you are an independent contractor like Tod Matthison, driving 200 to 300 miles a day, rising gas prices mean a smaller paycheck

"I average five hundred to eight hundred dollars a month in gas expense so it really cut into our overhead," said

Matthison says he would like to cut back, but he can't

"It's scary, but what do you do? I have been doing this for 20, 25 years," said Matthison.

Voters in Super Tuesday contests say gas prices were the most critical factor in their vote. The candidate who made the most dramatic promise to lower gas prices was Newt Gingrich, who said his plan that emphasizes expanded drilling would make gas $2.50 a gallon.

Voters clearly didn't buy Gingrich's promise he only won his home state of Georgia. Consumers should be wary of any guarantees, according to one Carlson School of Management Professor. He says the volatility in prices in recent years make fturue prices impossible to

"We don't know if anybody tells you they know if gas prices are going up or down they just believe in their own magic,"

On Wednesday in Washington D.C., there was a hearing where Republicans and Democrats offered very different views of how to deal with this issue from a policy perspective: Democrats are urging conservation and tax breaks for electric vehicles with Republicans urging a dramatic expansion of drilling.

So, according to the exit polls, that division will be a key factor in elections this fall.

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