A third of all student debt in the United States is held by people under 30. That’s more than $550 billion last year, according to the Education Data Initiative. Most of that money is federal debt – money owed in repayment to the government. A third of 18- to 30-year-olds have student debt, a percentage twice that of any other age group.

In other words, it is people in this age group who should respond most favorably to President Biden’s announcement last month that he was canceling some of the federal student loan debt for millions of dollars. Americans. The response of young Americans to such a proposal was undoubtedly part of the administration’s calculation; Biden’s approval rating among young people has fallen further than any other age group as his poll numbers have plummeted. Many Democrats hoped and expected that debt relief would help turn the tide.

So far, such a political effect is difficult to measure.

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FiveThirtyEight compiles an average of recent polls that gives us a general idea of ​​how Biden is viewed by American adults. Over the past year, the trend of his approval had been moving in one direction: down. But at the end of July, it was reversed. Biden’s approval began to rise. Its net approval – meaning approval minus disapproval – has fallen from minus-22 on July 25 to minus-11 now.

Notice the three dates marked on this chart. The first (labeled A) is June 20, when the average price of a gallon of gasoline peaked, according to the Energy Information Administration. Then there was the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by the Senate on August 7 (“B”). On August 24, Biden announced student debt relief.

As you can see, the change of direction predates either of these last two developments. Also, the rollover was quite regular; there doesn’t seem to be any acceleration or deceleration in the approval rating related to IRA or debt relief. What continued, however, was the fall in the price of gasolinenow in its 13th week.

On Monday, a poll was released by Investor’s Business Daily indicating that young Americans had seen an increase in Biden’s approval attributed to the adoption of the IRA and debt relief. But that’s not as clear cut as it sounds, with the newspaper admitting that the debt relief “probably” helped Biden, although “it’s unclear to what extent.”

This poll also conflicts with data from YouGov’s weekly poll. The YouGov data shows a turnaround similar to that seen in the FiveThirtyEight average. (YouGov’s polls are part of that average, but a relatively small part.) This aligns more closely with the IRA passage, partly because it’s a weekly figure, not a a daily average. (In the graphs below, individual weekly polls are indicated by dots; three-week averages are indicated as lines. Net approval compares the averages.)

When we look at Americans under 30 – the most indebted group – there has been little to no movement at all. Over the past six weeks, this group’s endorsement of Biden has ranged from 42% to 48%, including 48% in the most recent survey. But that’s where the under-30 group also polled in mid-August, ahead of debt relief. In the first poll after the relief announcement, Biden was at 45%.

There is a lot of volatility in these numbers, admittedly, even using averages. But comparisons over time are useful here for obvious reasons.

Among the next oldest age group in YouGov’s poll, there is a more noticeable improvement for the president. This is a group that has a lot of student loan debt themselves – even more than the under-30 group, according to figures from the Education Data Initiative. Again, however, the increase in approval is more obviously related to the recovery in gasoline prices than to debt relief.

In the latest YouGov poll, Biden’s approval was back below 50%, several points lower than before the debt relief announcement.

It is certainly possible that the polls have not yet registered an increase in approval among young Americans. It is also possible that the approval will increase once the loan cancellation takes place in a few weeks. It may also be one of many issues that have less of an effect on the ballot than on eventual turnout on Election Day. It’s not yet clear.

But if gas prices continue to fall, the White House may not be so worried about the political effects of debt relief anyway.