The Political Case For Student Debt Cancellation
By Jon Green, Sean McElwee, Meredith Conroy and Colin McAuliffe
Key Findings Of Our Research:
The Students Over Special Interests Act has net positive support nationally and in the vast majority of states.
Student debt holders are pro-Democratic, but are not as enthusiastic to vote.
The Students Over Special Interests Act is popular among individuals who are somewhat enthusiastic to vote.
Twenty-six percent of individuals who voted for Obama in 2012 but did not vote in 2016 reported student debt, compared with twenty percent of individuals who voted for Obama in 2012 and Clinton in 2016.
Nineteen percent of non-voters hold student debt, identical to the share of voters who hold student debt.
Nonvoters who hold student debt preferred Clinton over Trump 60 percent to 36 percent (the rest chose a third party candidate).
Data for Progress commissioned polling from YouGov Blue designed to test support for the Students Over Special Interests Act introduced by Jared Polis. The question asked respondents, “Would you support or oppose reversing the tax cuts recently passed by Congressional Republicans and signed by President Trump, and using any proceeds to cancel outstanding student debt?” The survey was a nationally representative survey performed by YouGov Blue with a sample of 1,515 that was fielded from July 13th to July 16th, 2018.
In addition, Data for Progress analyzed data from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies survey, a nationally representative survey fielded during the 2016 election with 64,000 respondents.
What We Found:
1. The SOS Bill Has Support Nationally
Our polling shows nationally, the bill has net positive support, suggesting that Democrats have no need to worry about endorsing the issue. Forty-one percent of Americans support the legislation, 35 percent oppose it and 24 percent don't know or neither support or oppose it, giving it net support of +6 points.
2. Student Debt Holders Overwhelmingly Support the SOS Bill
Among those responsible for paying off student loans, 55 percent support the SOS proposal and 43 percent “strongly” support the proposal, indicating high intensity. Only 25 percent oppose the proposal, indicating +30 net support.
3. The SOS Bill Has Support Across The Country
Using multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) we modelled support for the Students Over Special Interests Act. In 38 states and DC, the legislation has net positive support and in 3 states support was neutral (the same share in support and opposed). In 29 states and DC, net support was greater than or equal to +5 and in 16 states and DC net support was greater than +10. Those states are DC, Vermont, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, Iowa, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, California, Maine, New York and Washington.
4. The SOS Bill as Support Across Racial Groups
The legislation was incredibly popular with Black (+28) and Latino voters (+15). Among white voters there was net positive support.
5. The SOS Bill Has Support Among Young Voters
The policy was most popular with young folks, but was only narrowly underwater among older folks. Among those under 30 (+15) and 30-44 (+16), support is overwhelming. Among those 45-65, support is even and there is modest opposition among those older than 65 (-4).
6. The SOS Bill has Support Among Nonvoters and Mobilization Targets
Nonvoters have +17 net support, suggesting this could be a good policy to excite them. In addition, among voters who are "very" excited to vote, net support is +2. Among voters who are "somewhat" excited to vote (the key voters for Democrats to mobilize), net support is +11.
The survey was a nationally representative survey performed by YouGov Blue with a sample of 1,515 that was fielded from July 13th to July 16th, 2018.