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46 Percent of Voters Are More Likely to Vote Thanks to Student Debt Relief Plan

The polling suggests that student debt relief is a politically savvy move, as activists have pointed out for years.

President Joe Biden greets supporters after speaking at a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee at Richard Montgomery High School on August 25, 2022, in Rockville, Maryland.

President Joe Biden’s highly anticipated move to cancel student debt for tens of millions of borrowers is widely popular and will help to motivate a large swath of voters to cast a ballot this fall, new polling finds.

Voters across the ideological spectrum say they’re more likely to vote in this year’s midterm elections due to Biden’s student debt plan. Forty-six percent of likely voters surveyed by Data for Progress say they’re more likely to vote this fall, with 52 percent of Democrats, 38 percent of independents and 49 percent of Republicans saying as such. People with outstanding student loans are the most likely to be motivated by the plan, with 54 percent saying they’re now more likely to vote.

Though the survey doesn’t specify who voters say they’ll cast a ballot for, the poll finds that the plan enjoys majority support from its respondents. Over half – 55 percent – of respondents said they support the plan, including a towering 88 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of current student loan borrowers.

The poll finds majority support for every aspect of Biden’s debt cancellation plan. The most popular provision, with 64 percent support, is the move to cover borrowers’ unpaid interest each month so that loan balances don’t grow as long as borrowers are making their monthly payments. This could be revolutionary for people with student loans and could prevent situations like borrowers’ loans multiplying as their loan balances grow faster than they can pay it off.

The polling suggests that taking action to lessen the burdens caused by student debt, as activists have been fiercely urging Biden and Democrats to do for years, is a popular move that could help boost Democrats’ chances of winning more races this fall.

Though the plan’s debt relief is far smaller than what activists had wanted, they are hopeful that Biden’s plan – to cancel up to $20,000 of debt, cap monthly payments at 5 percent of income, cover unpaid interest, and more – will help deliver much-needed relief to tens of millions of borrowers at a crucial time for the economy.

Other polls also indicate that Biden’s announcement will help drive more support for Democrats this fall. Recent polls find that Biden’s approval rating, which has been on a downward trend this year, improved immediately after the student debt announcement.

A CBS/YouGov poll conducted around the time of the announcement found that Biden’s approval rose by 3 points over July. Another poll, done by Quinnipiac University, found more dramatic results; conducted in the days following the announcement, the poll found that Biden’s job approval shot up by a whopping 9 percent between July and August, rising to its highest point since September 2021.

Both polls affirmed what many prior polls have found: student debt cancellation is popular and enjoys majority support among the public. Taken together, all three polls perhaps paint a picture that it is, indeed, politically savvy to take actions that have polled well among the public, as progressive lawmakers and advocates have been telling establishment Democrats for years.

This fall’s elections are critical for Democrats and for democracy itself, with the growing threat of fascism within the Republican Party. Though the president’s party traditionally loses seats in Congress during his first term in office, recent polls and political analyses are suggesting that issues like abortion and gun violence are giving Democrats an edge, giving the party hope that it may hold on to more power in Congress than expected for the final two years of Biden’s first term.

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