Student Loan Debt Forgiveness is Popular Among Majorities of Those With and Without Student Loan Debt
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Navigator Research released new polling showing more than three in five Americans (63 percent) support canceling a portion of student loan debt, including a majority of those who have never had any student loan debt (55 percent). This support includes more than eight in ten Democrats (83 percent), almost three in five Independents (59 percent), and two in five Republicans (41 percent).
Canceling student loan debt is most popular among Black Americans (87 percent), followed by Hispanic Americans (72 percent, with even higher support among Hispanic Americans under the age of 45 (76 percent support).
“This data shows that President Biden canceling student loan debt could be hugely consequential to millions of Americans facing significant financial burdens amidst the pain of rising costs — it would decrease the racial wealth gap and potentially help him regain support from Black and Hispanic Americans in particular, where he has seen erosion in job approval over the last few months,” said Bryan Bennett, Senior Director of Polling & Analytics at the Hub Project and Advisor to Navigator Research. “Even Americans who don’t carry student debt themselves are sympathetic and are supportive of loan forgiveness.”
After exposure to messaging about student loans, data shows that if President Biden canceled a portion of federal student loan debt, it increases the belief that he has kept his campaign promises. Initially, Americans are split evenly on whether President Biden has kept his campaign promises (50 percent) or whether he has broken them (50 percent). However, when asked how that opinion might change if Biden canceled a portion of student loan debt, perceptions Biden has kept his campaign promises increased by 8 points overall (to 58 percent promises kept). Younger Americans under the age of 45 saw the largest positive movement, increasing 11 points from 53 percent who initially believe Biden is keeping his promises to 64 percent if he cancels a portion of student loan debt.
A variety of different messages tested were largely seen as convincing by at least three in five Americans, with the top-testing messages focusing on helping millions of Americans better handle rising costs, whether because of factors like the pandemic and rising costs (68 percent convincing) or because costs are rising faster than incomes while education has become incredibly expensive (66 percent convincing).
Canceling student loan debt would also significantly improve the perception among younger Black and Hispanic Americans’ perception that President Biden is keeping his campaign promises. Initially, Biden is net +10 with 55 percent of Hispanic Americans under the age of 45 believing he has kept his campaign promises (45 percent promises broken), but that jumps to 61 percent if he were to cancel student debt. Among Black Americans under the age of 45, 63 percent say that Biden is keeping his promises, which jumps to 70 percent if he cancels some debt.
In Navigator’s focus groups among Black Americans in swing states last month, many participants cited canceling student loans as one of President Biden’s primary campaign promises. This is notable given that Biden’s approval has declined 10 points among Black Americans over the course of 2021 in Navigator’s tracking (from 86% to 76%).
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About the Study
Global Strategy Group conducted public opinion surveys among a sample of 1,000 registered voters from February 3-February 7, 2022. 101 additional interviews were conducted among Hispanic voters. 78 additional interviews were conducted among Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. 99 additional interviews were conducted among African American voters. 100 additional interviews were conducted among independent voters. The survey was conducted online, recruiting respondents from an opt-in online panel vendor. Respondents were verified against a voter file and special care was taken to ensure the demographic composition of our sample matched that of the national registered voter population across a variety of demographic variables. The margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 3.1 percent.
About the Focus Groups
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.