What Role Can Student Loan Forgiveness Play In Voter Turnout?
Let’s take a closer look at how we can tap into the online discourse and turn support for student loan forgiveness into action at the polls.
The long-awaited campaign promise from President Joe Biden has finally become a reality: we are getting that student loan forgiveness (well, maybe). While this may not be at the top of anyone's list of reasons to cast a ballot in the midterms, it has become one of the biggest conversations on the internet since the news was released.
We’ve all seen the polls letting us know that inflation, crime, and the economy are consistently the top issues for voters, so what role does student loan forgiveness play?
BIG TAKEAWAY: Student loan forgiveness provides tangible proof of the administration's ability to get things done for voters.
The announcement of student loan forgiveness is perceived as a positive outcome for the administration.
Democrats are driving a narrative around student loan forgiveness that appeals to audiences generally outside the mainstream political debates.
Some may criticize student loan forgiveness as a political ploy to turn out voters, but what does it matter if it has positive outcomes for the people and the party?
SLEEPER TAKEAWAY: By using online platforms to talk about student loan forgiveness we can bolster voters’ confidence in politicians’ ability to deliver on their promises.
The discourse around student loan forgiveness remained steady over the last year as everyone waited to see if any legislation would come out of the White House. When it did, social media exploded.
Since this initial announcement in August, the volume has dropped back down, but we see a rise again as appreciation for the student loan debt relief application has built over the last week. Google tracks the same trends in search and predicts that interest will only continue to increase over the next few weeks.
While waiting for news on loan forgiveness over the last year, the sentiment was overwhelmingly negative with little hope that there would ever be forgiveness, but since the announcement, things have changed.
Positive sentiment has been on the rise, with the highest spike (69%) following the release of the application. Honorable mention: the application takes less than two minutes!
The discourse about student loan forgiveness is overwhelmingly non-partisan, but when we analyze the online discussion among self-identified Democrats and Republicans it is clear that Democrats are leading the narrative in the discourse.
Democrats are not only leading the discourse in volume, but also contributing to the high levels of positivity in the student loan forgiveness discussion. Since the announcement of #StudentLoanForgiveness, a divisive political conversation has been on the rise. As Democrats praise President Biden, Republicans are concerned with the perceived economic effects of loan forgiveness.
The voices of Democrats online are louder, more diverse, and coming at the topic from different angles. The Republicans, on the other hand, are more unified in their disagreements signaling that only a specific group of them are truly concerned and that this is not representative of the majority of Republicans’ point of view.
The primary criticism from the Republicans is that student loan forgiveness is being used as a ploy in exchange for midterm votes, even though it is a program that will provide real relief for people in the wake of record-high inflation and economic uncertainty.
But let’s face it, this is politics and why not tap into the benefits of this program as we lead up to the election?
A recent study from Rise and Avalanche Insights highlights that the majority of young voters are skeptical of politicians' ability to deliver on their promises causing them to have a lower interest in voting. The student loan forgiveness program aids this concern, providing evidence that promises can be kept while simultaneously addressing economic concerns.
Bottom line: We can use social media to talk about student loan forgiveness and spread the message of a unified front fighting for economic justice. We can fill some of the gap in trust with evidence that the administration, and the party, are listening and acting on voters' concerns.
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