Although gas prices remain high, signs point to an extended downward slide.

"AAA expects that the national average is likely to be between $3.40-3.50 when American's head to the polls in just over two weeks and to be between $3.25-3.40 by Thanksgiving," according to the motorists group's Fuel Gauge Report.

As of Monday, the national price of a gallon of regular was $3.67, a dozen cents below the week before - the biggest weekly drop since 2008's economic woes dragged prices down from an all-time high of $4.11 in July to under $2 by year's end, according to the report.

Prices slid again yesterday, hitting $3.63 this morning, according to AAA.

That was roughly the same as the average for New Jersey, while Pennsylvania's prices were about a dozen cents higher, and Philly's average was about $3.77, according to Philly.com's gas prices page (http://ph.ly/octgas).

The down arrow is the good news.

The bad news is that 2012 should easily break last year's record average high of $3.51. So far this year, the average is about 13 cents higher, with a record average for September and for "each calendar date for more than two months," says AAA.

To some degree, recent fluctuations have defied market logic, since the decline should have begun last month, but prices were influenced by "panic selling, following panic buying last month" more than movements in the price of crude, according to AAA Midatlantic.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.