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Focus Group Report: Black Americans on Biden, Student Loans, Voting Rights, and COVID

Thursday, February 3, 2022 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.
Key takeaways
  • Participants try to find some silver linings in the country today, mostly around the change in administration and investments in health care.
  • Biden gets a mix of grades—neither enthusiastic support nor enthusiastic rejection. No one gives Biden an F, but no one gives Biden an A.
  • Most want to see Biden more aggressive.
  • Student loan forgiveness looms large – it is associated with Biden and participants see it as having an impact on them and their communities.
  • Some are COVID vaccine-converts, and others have seen mandates—formal or informal—make a difference.


Participants Note Some Positives, But Others Struggle To Identify Specific Examples Of Things Going Well

Biden’s Progress Report Gets A Mix Of Grades, With Little Intensity In Either Direction

Biden’s Approval Rating Among Black Americans Has Eroded Over The Past Year, Particularly Among Those Under 35

President Biden’s approval rating among all Black Americans declined 10 points over the course of 2021 (from 86% to 76%); among those under the age of 35, approval has declined 25 points since this time last year (from 88% to 63%).

Little Anger Toward Biden, Most Just Want Him To Be More Aggressive

A Majority of Americans Would Prefer to Hear from Biden More, Including More Than Four in Five Black Americans

More than two in five Black Americans feel strongly that they would like to hear from President Biden more (44%).

Participants View Democrats As Not Adequately Overcoming Republican Obstruction

Most See The Voting Rights Debate As Republicans Aggrieved About Losing

Georgia And Texas Seen As Ground Zero For Voter Suppression

Voting Rights Are Not Top Of Mind For Everyone

Black Americans Overwhelmingly Support Biden’s Economic Agenda And Voting Rights Legislation

More than three in four younger Black Americans support both Biden’s economic agenda (76%) and new voting rights legislation (78%).

Many Associate Biden With The Promise Of Student Loan Forgiveness

Student Loan Freezes And Forgiveness Are Broadly Understood Policies These Participants Strongly Support

Freezes/Forgiveness Seen As Improving Quality Of Life For Themselves And Others

Revisiting With Michigan Men Shows Many Have Moved On The Vaccine

Vaccine Mandates—Formal And Informal—Moved Others

About The Study

This release features findings from three focus groups conducted on January 25, 2022 with Black voters in three states: in Michigan with less politically engaged men (most of whom were in our February 2021 group), in Georgia with younger Democratic men, and in Texas with younger Democratic women. Qualitative results are not statistically projectable.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

For press inquiries contact: press@navigatorresearch.org