National Poll:
Passionate Education Voters Want Bold, Accelerated Change Immediately

Executive Summary

Education Champions commissioned Democracy Corps to conduct a large-scale 3,000 sample web survey in seven states with close Senate races at the federal level. The survey looked at the importance of education issues to voters at a time when education is getting explosive attention. It also identified large, new groups of education voters and a demand for an accelerated education agenda that would impact people’s lives and upcoming elections, as well as grow a grassroots movement.

Key Findings

Below are the Key Findings of the survey across all seven states. 

69%


of voters are more likely to vote for a Senate candidate who prioritizes education and has a clear education agenda

32%


of voters ranked education issues among those that are influencing their vote

42%


of voters are worried about students, teachers and their families getting sick during the COVID-19 pandemic and the reopening of schools.

15%


of voters would “definitely” get involved with an organization that works to elevate education as a national priority.

32%


of voters, who are primarily African American women, millennial women, Hispanic women and white working-class women, prioritize and are moved by education issues.

23%


When campaigns focus on education, the proportion of voters saying education is a top issue in their vote jumps 10 points –from 13 to 23%.

90%


of Democrats

68%


of Independents

38%


of Republicans

 

prefer that school reopening decisions be guided by the advice of trusted scientists, rather than the current administration.

The Full Breakdown

An Accelerated and Bold Education Agenda: The Future is Now

The pandemic and economic crisis have amplified issues that are creating new education voters. These priorities are exceedingly more urgent and will continue to affect American families long after the pandemic ends. Urgent education priorities for the next President and Congress:

  • Invest in career and technical education programs to help students, and current workers, develop the skills they need to get good jobs. 
  • Make college and postsecondary education affordable to reduce the burden of student loan debt.
  • Address racial and income inequality in the education system.

Education voters can see how the current economic crisis, health care challenges and national polarization can be overcome with BIG changes in the American education system:

  • Redesign the pre-K and K-12 experience so it includes strong components of problem solving, academics, the arts, mental and physical health, living skills, civics, and community activities, integrated into in-school and out of school experiences, based on the best research. 
  • Expand affordable internet access and provide appropriate hardware and software to all Americans so that people have access to learning, the training and educational services they need throughout their lives. 
  • Create a massive re-training program for 52 million unemployed Americans. We may be experiencing the highest unemployment rate on record, but we can use this opportunity to retrain America for the future.

2020 Priorities

In close races, passionate education voters can make the difference in who is elected, based on whether the positions candidates take on education issues resonate with voters’ immediate concerns.

The intense debate over school reopenings has created a new consciousness about education among voters. They trust the scientists, not President Trump, to lead on this issue, and do not want the federal government to cut education funding. From here, partisanship drives concerns about health as much as any relationship to real risk. 

63% of Democrats, 35% of Independents and 25% of Republicans think schools are opening too quickly.

Independents are genuinely conflicted, aligning with Democrats on some issues, Republicans on some, and falling right in-between on others.

However, 42% of all voters say their first concern is keeping students, teachers and their families from getting sick as schools reopen.

New concerns have also arisen during the pandemic. The public is worried about students falling behind in school, students lacking Internet access while stay-at-home orders are in place, parents losing income due to widespread unemployment and children not having enough to eat at home.

These experiences have resulted in voters being open to very bold and accelerated education proposals from elected officials. The upcoming election will decide the education issues during and after the pandemic, as well as for years to come.

Who are Education Voters?

Women continue to be a powerful voting bloc in the United States, especially when it comes to education. Black women, white millennial women, Hispanic women, and white working-class women rate education as relatively high in their list of important voting issues.

Education voters are most likely to be those under financial stress and whom the economic crisis has hit the hardest. These voters are disproportionately low-income and are more likely to have used a food bank during the pandemic. 

They are also concerned about students lacking the resources needed to continue learning effectively during the pandemic, with 40% in every major demographic group citing this as a top concern. 

Among the most intense education voters, 15% of them are open to taking action and becoming involved in a movement to make education a national priority. The defining characteristics of this subset: young people of color who lean Democratic and have strong personal connections to the education system.

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We're currently making some updates to the Educations Champions to better reflect our mission. In the meantime, we invite you to review our past work including polling and other materials. Please check back soon for our updated site.