The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

This might be the worst defense of the Biden administration yet

You’re not helping, DCCC

A motorist fills a vehicle with gasoline at a pump outside a Costco store on Nov. 29 in Sheridan, Colo. (David Zalubowski/AP)
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No one would argue that things are going perfectly for President Biden. Many, in fact, would point out that, at least politically, things have rarely been worse. His approval rating is in the low 40s, and his efforts to finalize his major spending package are trudging along. It’s possible that, by the weekend, he’ll be contending with a government shutdown.

So it’s safe to say that having his allies gin up defenses as shoddy as this won’t really help much.

That’s a graph from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) showing a drop in the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States. The line does go downward, it’s true, and rather dramatically. Were that axis on the left a scale from zero to $4 a gallon, that decrease would be remarkable. Nearly free gas! Certainly something worth hyping.

But the axis does not use the scale. Instead, the line drops from about $3.40 to about $3.38, as marked on the y-axis — or, in layman’s terms, a decline of two cents. And since we’re talking about two cents out of nearly four dollars, that graph depicts a drop in the price of gas of just under 1 percent of the cost.

Since Biden took office, the price of gas has risen more than a dollar on this same measure.

Of course, much of that is unrelated to Biden and his policies, as Biden and his allies would normally be quick to point out. Now, though, the DCCC wants to not only give Biden credit for a decline in the price of gas, they want to give him credit for a tiny decline in the price of gas. A decline that isn’t even the largest decline we’ve seen this year; over a similar period in August, the price of gas dropped more than 1 percent, more than three cents.

If we adjust the graph to set the y-axis at zero, you can see how modest the recent downturn in prices has been. The period shown in the DCCC graph is indicated.

It is possible that the country has seen a peak in the price of a gallon of gas. If so, that would certainly be good news and might even help turn Biden’s approval ratings around. But the DCCC might be advised to wait until that turnaround is a little more substantial than it currently is before boasting about how effective the president has been.

Or, at least, they might not want to try to prove their dubious point with a graph that makes obvious how modest the decrease has been.

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