POLL: Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness May Lose More Votes Than It Buys

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

A new national poll from Convention of States Action and Trafalgar Group shows that President Joe Biden’s unconstitutional student loan forgiveness may hurt midterm candidates who support it. Nearly two-thirds of Independent likely voters join the 88.5% of Republicans who say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Overall, less than one-third of likely voters say support for student loan forgiveness makes them much more likely to vote for a candidate who supports it. So much for Biden’s attempt to buy votes.


“We’re seeing this reflected not just in the polling but on the ground as well with grassroots activists we talk to in every state. Voters—particularly those must-win Independents—are appalled by Biden’s plan and will respond at the ballot box. This is looking like the sleeper issue that may have more impact in November than people suspect, ” said Mark Meckler, President of the Convention of States.

In 2021, Pew Research reported that 37.9% of Americans over 25 held a bachelor’s degree, including 14.3% that completed a graduate degree. At the time, the gender gap was stark. The gap in college completion is even wider among adults ages 25 to 34, who are most likely to have significant outstanding debt. Forty-six percent of women in this age group have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 36% of men.

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Yet in every age group, the largest plurality of voters told pollsters student loan forgiveness made them much less likely to vote for a candidate that supported it. Robert Cahaly, Chief Pollster for the Trafalgar Group, shared that he had first seen the trend when polling the Senate race in Georgia. Trafalgar was the first to report finding a slight lead for Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Since then, two other polls have shown even bigger leads for Walker after months of Senator Raphael Warnock having a comfortable one.


Cahaly believes Biden’s student loan forgiveness program significantly impacted the Georgia Senate race as well as other contests. Biden announced his policy on August 24, and Trafalgar released the state-level poll for Georgia Senate and gubernatorial races on August 30. Two other state-level polls from Trafalgar that followed found the New York gubernatorial race and the Washington Senate race had also narrowed. During the Georgia poll, Cahaly said the open-ended questions provided a forum for him to understand why.

It was not just likely voters without a college degree or those who had paid their loans off who were upset with Biden’s announcement. One respondent shared they had $120,000 in student loans, and $10,000 was just “a drop in the bucket.” Other graduates had similar stories. The president’s program was not nearly enough for them, and Cahaly believes they thought the government would zero out their loans. “Only Joe Biden could find a way to give away money and make nobody happy,” he quipped.

Biden’s loan forgiveness issue may have been enough for Walker to take a slight lead. Until the last few weeks, he had been trailing Governor Brian Kemp’s lead over Democrat Stacey Abrams significantly, which was difficult to reconcile. People who would vote for Brain Kemp are not likely to pull the lever for Warnock. Cahaly attributes much of the difference to a months-long barrage of anti-Walker ads in the state. Abrams’s campaign has not been nearly as active with television ad buys on local stations.


And as the generic poll narrows nationally, Cahaly attributes the change to people moving back into their political camps. However, it does not necessarily mean Republicans will not do well. “The generic ballot is a national poll, and we don’t have a national parliamentary election. What I see is an anti-incumbent wave,” he said.

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That would give Walker an additional boost in Georgia. “There is something very special going on with the Walker campaign,” Cahaly said. “Three credible polls now have him ahead.”  It also leaves Republican candidates in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio with room to move because an incumbent is not running. And it could signal the race in Arizona between Blake Masters and incumbent Senator Mark Kelly will tighten in the next few weeks.

It seems the key could be running directly against unpopular policies and economics. While the political class focuses on the Biden administration’s escalating rhetoric, Cahaly says ordinary people not engrossed in the news cycle are focused on other topics. Top-of-mind issues are the student loan payoff, Biden’s failure to maintain a moderate stance, and his fixation on opposing people who supported President Trump.


And as gas prices creep up again, Cahaly believes five to seven House seats and a few Senate seats could turn on whether people who heat with oil have to fill their tanks before or after they vote. It could go down to the wire in key races, and a cold snap could mean a redder wave.


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