Political observers on Monday pointed to U.S. President Joe Biden's long-awaited August unveiling of a student debt cancellation plan for federal borrowers after new polling showed that his approval rating among younger American adults has jumped by double digits.
Polling conducted last week by TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics (TIPP) for Investor's Business Daily revealed that "adults 18-44 now approve of Biden's handling of the presidency by a 51%-40% margin. Biden's net approval of 11 points among younger Americans reversed from net disapproval of 11 points in August. At that time, just 40% approved and 51% disapproved of his job performance."
"Biden's move to forgive a portion of federal college loans probably contributed to his polling bounce, but it's not clear how much. College grads now approve of Biden's job performance 56%-41% vs. 51%-43% in August," the outlet reported.
The report noted that "among those with some college, Biden's approval rose to a still-negative 44%-49% from 37%-54%. Among those with no more than a high school degree, Biden's approval bounced but remained low at 38%-54%, from 28%-62%."
Biden last month extended a freeze on federal student loan repayments through the end of the year, while his administration sorts out various relief policies. For those making less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 as a household, the government will erase up to $20,000 of debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for other borrowers.
Additionally, as Common Dreams reported at the time, the president announced changes to the income-driven repayment (IDR) program that The American Prospect managing editor Ryan Cooper said is "potentially a bigger deal than forgiveness."
Cooper on Monday noted film and television editor Michael Tae Sweeney's tweet about the polling results, which highlighted GOP efforts to urgently kill Biden's student debt relief policies.
Others also tied the survey's findings to the forthcoming federal student debt cancellation.
"Looks like removing crushing debt burdens for families is a political winner after all," Groundwork Collaborative executive director Lindsay Owens tweeted of the "remarkable" shift in just a month. "The centrist economists turned political pundits got this one wrong."
Crooked Media editor in chief Brian Beutler similarly said that "Biden's horrific polling with young voters began last year when gas prices were low and stable. Not to be TOO obnoxious about this, but this is what some of us said would happen if Biden embraced a more aggressive approach. Then he did, and now it has."
The Nation's Jeet Heer noted some of the intense opposition to even a plan like Biden's, which is modest compared with what his 2020 Democrat challengers campaigned on and what activists and some progressives in Congress continue to demand.
"I agree with the popularists that it's good to do popular things that poll well and bolster support with marginal voters," he said. "What's fascinating is that student debt relief did that but self-proclaimed popularists were lukewarm or passive-aggressively hostile to it."
The TIPP poll was conducted just after YouGov surveyed Americans on the president's specific plan for Yahoo! News. Those results, released last week, show that a plurality of voters across the political spectrum support it.
Nearly half of Americans—48%—told YouGov they support the plan, compared with 34% who opposed it and 18% who said they were not sure. Among those with student debt, 70% support the plan—and among those who previously had student loans, 48% were supportive.