Pew’s recent research shows that while conservatives are divided on the topic, liberals overwhelmingly support making college free to US citizens. Liberal political candidates often make higher education access a major campaign platform, which is a wise tactic for winning votes.
Minority voters strongly favor free higher education
Winning the support of minority voters is an important part of any liberal political candidate’s strategy, as the minority population in the United States is steadily growing. But, minority voters don’t have a track record of turning out to vote for candidates about whom they’re not truly excited.
Based on Pew’s research, 86 percent of black voters and 82 percent of latinx voters either strongly favor or somewhat favor tuition-free college. These numbers indicate that free higher education policy platforms could be a way to inspire minority voters to show up at the polls on election day.
Young conservatives increasingly support free higher education
The majority of conservative voters oppose making public college and university tuition free. However, the party has deep divisions based on age, income, and level of education. Low-income, less educated, and young conservatives are roughly twice as likely as their well-educated, wealthy, older party mates to favor free college and university education.
While lower-income and less educated voters are worth winning over for liberal candidates, young voters are critical to the party’s future. Among Republicans aged 18-29, 55 percent support tuition-free college, versus just 24 percent of Republicans aged 65 and older.
This data suggests that liberal candidates who run on a platform of making higher education free could win over some young conservatives who might not feel that their views and values are represented by their party.
A strong platform for many liberal candidates
Some liberal candidates who run for office in conservative districts may not benefit from making free access to higher education one of their platforms. But for many liberals, publicly supporting the idea of tuition-free college – and promising to make tuition-free college a reality — could win them the crucial votes they need to win their elections.