Student loan forgiveness isn’t the mid-term lifesaver some Democrats wanted

Seven weeks into the midterm elections, Democrats face better prospects than when they entered the summer of 2022. Inflation has evolvedGas prices are dropping, and as they go home, congressional Democrats can claim a host of accomplishments from their time in the capital.

But there is one “win” that some Democrats feel may be more a liability than an asset: the Biden administration’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loans.

Before the plan became a reality, the country was divided in its support for debt cancellation: Republicans largely opposed it, but it has long been a hit among a large subset of young voters, according to the Progressive Polls Organizers. Currently, suffrage It shows a stark partisan divide in support for the plan and, for Democrats in tight races, soft support among Independents.

The announcement, intriguingly timed, after a result of legislative victories and a few months before the election, sparked outrage among conservatives who believed the bailout was unfair to those who had not pursued a college education or had already paid off their loans. At the same time, the announcement of the policy came as President Joe Biden saw a resurgence in support, especially among younger Americans. During the election campaign, however, the plan did not make the positive electoral impact that many proponents described as one of the political advantages of waiving student debt. And the It provides fodder for Republican candidates It completely contradicts Biden’s economic agenda.

That’s part of the reason A handful of weak Democratic incumbents (and challengers) criticized the policy when the White House announced it. Some of these campaigns have since told me that they either don’t make it a problem in their races or simply don’t hear much about it from Democratic voters.

Negative reaction to politics has yet to be recorded in the poll on what motivates voters, but there is still time for both sides to make it a problem. If Republicans succeed in doing so, some Democrats fear that the policy could cost them much-needed support in swing states and races, and could eliminate their chances of maintaining a majority in the Senate while limiting losses in the House.

Biden faced a lot of pressure to ease student loans. The benefits may not be as great as promised.

Biden had already extended the moratorium on student loan payments four times before his August 24 announcement and was reluctant to commit to canceling the loan for most of his first year in office. He has faced criticism from progressives in his party and from advocacy groups, including accusations that he broke a campaign promise (although he never committed to completely cancel the loan). In response, he set himself a September deadline and promised to decide on debt relief or another extension of the moratorium.

However, this year’s spring and summer has been achieved Biden’s devastating approval numbersdriven in large part by rising inflation. The president and his party were dropping support from young voters and Liberal Democrats – and his numbers with the independents were under water. Many progressive advocacy groups and student loan forgiveness activists have argued that erasing student debt would be one of the main and easy ways to stop the bleeding.

The ballot that led to the decision showed the country’s division. Nationwide, more than six in 10 Americans supported some form of student loan forgiveness in February. Progress survey data That the champions of student loan forgiveness used as evidence of popularity. But the full forgiveness of the loan received the support of only a quarter of the respondents. Because of the party’s collapse and age, a majority of Republicans and a large number of older Americans opposed any measure, while half of the Democrats and a number of young Americans and independents supported canceling some, but not all, debt.

This partisan divide persists. The country is roughly split in half in support and opposition to Biden’s policy, and it is unpopular with independent and Republican voters, according to the Politico/Morning Consult . Poll Taken immediately after the advertisement. Support from freelancers remains divided roughly evenly, while the Republicans grew more opposition to her.

Before Biden’s announcement, there was a danger that such a decision, which helps many (but not just those) in the Democratic base, could alienate swing voters — independent, working-class and non-college-educated voters — that Democrats are in trouble. The races are trying to persuade. Now the divide showing up in national opinion polls has alarmed pundits, political strategists and weak Democratic candidates who, apart from appeasing the left wing, may not have massive political support.

Regardless of the electoral impact, more progressive voters in the Democratic Party say Biden’s action was worth it because it would motivate voters who are disillusioned with Democrats. “It helps motivate the base to understand that Biden and Democrats are listening,” Dakota Hall, executive director of the Youth Coalition, told me. “It’s a sign of goodwill that Biden did this before the election, to show the base he listens, and that he wants to keep his promises.”

Weak candidates don’t want to make it a big problem

However, it remains to be seen how far the student loan forgiveness will get young voters out. It is important to remember that even young voters are divided over how much debt forgiveness to support (A third opposed any action earlier this year). Some speculation about the impact of politics on younger voters is based on the common wisdom that younger Americans are more advanced than older cohorts, but this is only partly true. Young Americans are still milder than you might expect.

What is clear is that Biden’s action is very unpopular with the kind of voters who tend to be interested in midterm elections in swing states: older white Americans and independents. And the Republicans in the battle-states have already begun to withdraw Criticism of student debt forgiveness In their larger case against the Democrats centered around inflation and economic mismanagement in states such as Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Wisconsin.

This has several campaigns in the swing states involved. Because of that, they don’t necessarily talk about politics in the general election, either to not upset independent voters or to avoid giving Republicans more fodder to attack them.

In the swing state of Ohio, where Representative Tim Ryan and former venture capitalist and author J.D. Vance are vying for an open seat, Ryan publicly opposed Biden’s plan.

“Tim believes that using the Executive Action to clear the debt of the six-earners goes too far,” Director of Communications, Azi Levy told Vox in a statement. “[He] It believes the administration could have been better served by prioritizing comprehensive economic relief that benefits all working- and middle-class Ohioans, whether or not they attend college.”

A member of Ryan’s campaign leadership told me his position was due to the working-class nature of voters in the state (only about a quarter of the population has a college degree) and because voters didn’t really bring it up in conversation, unlike topics like inflation and affordability.

In Colorado, the swing state the Democrats are headed to, Senator Michael Bennett, too Criticize The president’s plan, which states in August that “the administration should have targeted more relief, has proposed a way to pay for this plan. While immediate relief for families is important, one-time debt cancellation does not solve the underlying problem.”

About four in 10 Colorado residents have a college education, but a spokesperson for the Bennett campaign told me he hadn’t heard much about student loan cancellation down the road. “Costs, climate and public lands are our top priorities,” the spokesperson told me. “Most of all, we are hearing concerns that abortion will become illegal following SCOTUS’ decision about Ro. “

It is difficult to gauge the extent to which student debt relief will motivate voters without a specific ballot in each state. In Nevada, for example, 61 percent of voters polled opposed the measure, according to the Poll conducted by Emerson College. The poll also showed Adam Laxalt, a far-right Republican denier, with a one-point lead over incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto, who struggled to maintain significant support during her campaign. Cortez Masto also came out against the plan after its announcement. But in neighboring Arizona, current Democratic Senator Mark Kelly held the position supported Executive work of the president. No recent in-state poll has shown how people feel about politics, but Arizona has More than 30 percent from college graduates to more than 25 percent in Nevada.

However, it may be too early to judge the impact of student loan cancellation on races or whether, despite Republicans’ attempts to make it a problem, it will have any effect at all. The policy is so popular with a very specific subset of the country that Democrats often see it as their base: younger Americans, college voters, and ardent liberals — the kind of voters who are more likely to vote Democrats even if loans are not waived.

Ultimately, this policy may have the effect of stemming the drain of support that Biden and Democrats have been experiencing among their base, and changing the narrative about whether Democrats — especially younger ones — will be as excited or engaged to vote this year as Republicans.

There are also a lot of other issues that take precedence on voters’ minds, especially inflation for independents and young voters, abortion for college-educated people and white Democrats. Republicans may find opportunities to link debt relief to inflation concerns (Lots of Americans are concerned about the effect of loan cancellation on inflation), but as a stand-alone issue, working against or canceling a student loan seems like laundering.

Regardless of politics, when the measure takes effect next year, it may be one of the most recent direct evidence that government and electoral policies are able to deliver tangible and positive impacts to a range of working people, people of color, and young people. Americans who have debts forgiven. It should not be underestimated. For now, though, student loan forgiveness looks like a minor political weakness likely to be overcome by deeper, long-term economic and social concerns that are already motivating voters who are likely to vote.

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