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Image: Las Vegas Shell gas station
Fuel prices at a Shell gas station on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nev., on March 9, 2022.Joe Buglewicz / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Nevada is the battleground state being hit hardest by gas prices

While the national average gas price has dropped 27 cents this month, Nevada's average dropped 5 cents and nears $5 per gallon.


Gas prices across the country have slipped significantly from the summer's average high of $5 a gallon, as the issue appears to be losing some salience in political messaging.

But Nevada has seen a slower decline than most of the country, and still sports gas just below that $5 per gallon mark. That dynamic could loom large in pivotal races for governor, Senate and the House.

Nevada's current average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.90, a slight decline from last month's $4.95 per gallon, but an uptick from last week's $4.84 per gallon average, per AAA. While prices in Las Vegas hem closely to that statewide average, the average price in Reno for a gallon of gas is $5.26.

The long-term increase in the price of gas is worse in Nevada than it is in the rest of the country — up 23% in The Silver State in the last 12 months compared to 17% across the country.

And just looking at the price at the pump, Nevada is outpacing states at the center of the battleground — compare its $4.90 per gallon average with prices of $3.99 in nearby Arizona, $3.47 in Wisconsin, $3.84 in Michigan and $3.24 in Georgia. (Washington and Oregon, two states that could be competitive in the fall, are more in line with Nevada, with average gas prices hovering around $4.65.)

Experts point to a combination of reasons for Nevada's above-average gas prices. There's a relative lack of refineries in the western United States; the western states rely more on Russian oil, per the Los Angeles Times and the Las Vegas Review Journal, leaving them more vulnerable in the middle of the war between Russia and Ukraine; and per the American Petroleum Institute, Nevada has some of the highest state gas taxes in the nation (per data from 2021).

As NBC News' Sahil Kapur and Natasha Korecki reported this weekend, Republicans are bullish on their chances of defeating Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto this fall. Sticky gas prices is one reason why.