GasBuddy Chart
There are always winners and losers when it comes to gasoline prices. GasBuddy analyzed its gasoline price data from 2011 to mid-2012 to find the winners and losers, as well as where motorists see the biggest average price changes.

It was no mystery when South Carolina popped up as having the lowest average gasoline price over the last year and a half. Fifty eight cents separated South Carolina from the #1 loser (in the lower 48) when it came to average daily gasoline prices.

The winners list, lowest average price between 1/1/11 and 7/17/12:
1.) South Carolina, $3.31/gal (combined tax 35.2c/gal)
2.) Oklahoma, $3.35/gal (combined tax 35.4c/gal)
3.) Wyoming, $3.36/gal (combined tax 32.4c/gal)
4.) Mississippi, $3.37/gal (combined tax 37.2c/gal)
5.) Missouri, $3.37/gal (combined tax 35.7c/gal)

You see most the winners are determined by their gasoline taxes. The average combined gasoline tax, according to the American Petroleum Institute is 48.9c/gal. With these areas over a dime less, there's considerable savings.

The losers list, highest average price between 1/1/11 and 7/17/12:
1.) California, $3.89/gal (combined tax 67.7c/gal)
2.) Connecticut, $3.80/gal (combined tax 63.4c/gal)
3.) New York, $3.78/gal (combined tax 67.7c/gal)
4.) Washington, $3.76/gal (combined tax 55.9c/gal)
5.) Oregon, $3.73/gal (combined tax 49.4c/gal)

I have a feeling Washington and Oregon only made the list due the BP's Cherry Point, WA refinery fire earlier this year. Otherwise, you see that gasoline taxes also make a big impact on this list.

Now, in terms of volatility, things were as I had suspected. Due to the Great Lakes and their bizarre price spikes, I expected these states to lead the nation, and they did. It's similar to how everyone seems to pick Duke to win the NCAA, although they're a known team that does well. I hardly believe the average motorist knows how Great Lakes states are on steroids.

States with most volatility in prices (highest average daily fluctuation) with average daily change:
1.) Indiana, 2.8c/gal (36th cheapest price average)
2.) Ohio, 2.6c/gal (25th cheapest price average)
3.) Michigan, 2.4c/gal (38th cheapest price average)
4.) Kentucky, 1.7c/gal (22nd cheapest price average)
5.) Minnesota, 1.5/gal (27th cheapest price average)

It is noteworthy to add that Missouri is #6 on the most volatile list, so not only are prices there low, but quite volatile as well, changing an average 1.4c/gal every day.

How does this stack up with how you expected? I think it's fair that with the exception of Missouri (which has the benefit of being low priced) no area that sees high volatility has among the nation's highest gas prices.