Monday, March 5, 2012

Gas Price Cherry-Picking

Once the general election campaign begins in earnest you can expect to hear ad nauseum from Republicans that gas prices have doubled during President Obama's term. Is that true? Yes, it is.

The problem with this claim and the reason it constitutes a first degree pander is apparent in the chart of gas prices from 2008 to the present. By selecting the lowest point on the chart, which occurs between President Obama's election and his inauguration, and comparing it to the last data point you do indeed find a factor of two increase. In context, however, it's obvious this is an anomaly resulting from cherry-picking the data.

Gas Prices

The chart clearly shows that gas prices were extraordinarily depressed at the time of the change of administrations due to the collapse of the economy that began during President Bush's second term. Compare current prices with what they were six months before the change of administrations and you find that gas prices were actually higher then than they are now.

Prices dropped for lack of demand. Now that the economy is recovering prices at the pump are rebounding. What's at work here is simply supply and demand that has nothing to do with energy policy. What are the chances that fact will deter Republicans from cherry-picking the data and pandering the issue? Panderbear thinks that within statistical error the probability is, well, zero.

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