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To: Morley Winograd, The Campaign for Free College Tuition

From: Jack MacKenzie, PSB Research


Re: June Pulse Poll and Democratic Oversample

This memo reflects the results of two separate surveys fielded on behalf of the
Campaign for Free College Tuition.

Tuition-free college is embraced across all political and demographic lines. Overall, 71
percent of all Americans agree their state should provide free tuition at public college or
universities to any academically qualified student. PSB’s June Pulse Poll indicated that
over two-thirds of Independents (71 percent) and a majority of Republicans (57 percent)
also support state free college programs. Support is strong among all age groups. More
than three quarters (76 percent) or Americans under 65 years of age support state free
college programs.

Additional Key Findings


• Free college tuition is supported strongly across the board among Democrats;
with support fueled by voters under the age of 50 – mostly Millennials and Plurals
– the voting block with the highest upside in the 2020 election.

• Free college tuition is a priority issue for a vast majority of democrats. While 1 in
5 say it’s the highest priority among four issues tested, 50 percent rank it in the
top 2 and nearly 80 percent rank it ahead of at least one of the four issues.

• Democrats support state-based college tuition programs over federal government


proposals by about 5 percent across all age and demographic groups.

• Democrats understand college is both a financial access issue as well as a post-


graduation student debt issue – favoring messaging that speaks to both ends of
the educational cost issue.

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Executive Summary
The momentum continues for states to offer free college tuition to academically qualified
students. 87% of these respondents support the concept, with 55% Strongly
Supporting. Democratic respondents under the age of 50; lower income Americans;
racial and ethnic minorities and single parents drive the support for the concept.

Do you favor or oppose your state providing free college tuition to anyone who is
academically qualified?

Total 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+

1146 378 243 293 232


Strongly
support 55% 61% 64% 54% 40%
Somewhat
support 32% 26% 28% 34% 43%
Somewhat
oppose 8% 7% 5% 10% 12%
Strongly
oppose 4% 6% 3% 2% 5%

The June survey was designed to understand the reception for the free college concept
in a federal government context as well as compared to other federal proposals put forth
by various Democratic candidates for President.
The survey measured levels of support of the following federal proposals, all of which
are popular among these self-identified democrats.
• Free College for All
• Green New Deal
• Medicare for All
• Universal Pre-K Education

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Free College for All
Changing the wording from “states to offer free college tuition to anyone academically
qualified to “a federal proposal known as Free College for All” softens support for the
issue with most audiences. The support from each age group falls between 4-7% (Top
2 boxes).
It is worth noting that Democrats aged 35-49, many of whom are still repaying college
loans, remain the strongest supporters of free college whether implemented at the state
or federal level. Federal involvement drops Strongly Support among those 65+ to 35%
even while generalized support is still at a strong 76% (Top 2 boxes).

Do you favor or oppose the following proposals?


A federal proposal known as “Free College for All” that would make all public colleges
and universities tuition-free.

Total 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+

1146 378 243 293 232


Strongly
support 51% 57% 61% 46% 35%
Somewhat
support 32% 26% 27% 38% 41%
Somewhat
oppose 12% 12% 8% 12% 16%
Strongly
oppose 5% 6% 4% 4% 8%

Green New Deal


The proposal known as the Green New Deal garners similar support among Democrats
with an interesting twist. In this case, Democrats age 65+ are the most likely to Strongly
Support the policy proposal, registering 56% Top Box and near unanimous support of
91% Top 2 boxes.

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Do you favor or oppose the following proposals?
A federal proposal known as The Green New Deal that would set strict limits on carbon
emissions to help address climate change.

Total 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+

1146 378 243 293 232


Strongly
support 52% 52% 50% 50% 56%
Somewhat
support 36% 32% 40% 40% 35%
Somewhat
oppose 9% 12% 7% 7% 8%
Strongly
oppose 3% 4% 3% 3% 1%

Medicare for All


Support for this issue is in line with the other proposals in the survey. The strongest
support for Medicare for All comes from Democrats under the age of 50, with the
highest support coming from Millennials and Gen Xers.

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Do you favor or oppose the following proposals?
A federal proposal known as Medicare for All that would establish a universal single-
payer health care system.

Total 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+

1146 378 243 293 232


Strongly
support 49% 48% 56% 48% 43%
Somewhat
support 36% 35% 31% 38% 38%
Somewhat
oppose 11% 12% 11% 9% 13%
Strongly
oppose 4% 4% 2% 5% 6%

Universal Pre-K Education


Again, Democrats are strongly in favor of this policy proposal. 89% of respondents
either Strongly or Somewhat support Universal Pre-K – showing an across the board
strength from all demographics. It is worth noting that African-American respondents
gave this is a 60% Top Box response, the strongest level of support among all
ethnicities across the four issues presented.

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Do you favor or oppose the following proposals?

A federal program to establish Universal Pre-K education?

Total 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+

1146 378 243 293 232


Strongly
support 53% 52% 61% 51% 50%
Somewhat
support 36% 37% 30% 36% 38%
Somewhat
oppose 8% 8% 7% 10% 8%
Strongly
oppose 3% 4% 2% 3% 4%

Rank Order of Priority


Respondents were then asked to rank the four issues, from 1 - 4, in order of priority for
them personally. This rank order exercise created distance between the issues among
the overall respondent group. Medicare for All was the clear winner in this ranking
exercise, with 70% of Democratic respondents saying it was either their first or second
priority.

Free College Tuition was the next highest priority among these Democrats, recording
50% first or second ranking, driven by 31% of respondents saying it was their second
highest priority among these four issues.

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Free College Green New Medicare for Universal Pre-
Tuition Deal All K Education
Rank #1 19% 23% 44% 14%
Rank #2 31% 24% 26% 18%
Rank #3 29% 25% 18% 29%
Rank #4 21% 29% 12% 39%

Priority Trends by Demographics

Free College for All Support was fueled by Millennial and Pluralist generation
Democrats (57% ranked first or second), Moms (62%) and African Americans (61%).

Medicare for All


Support for this policy proposal was driven by voters over the age of 50 (52% ranked it
#1).

Green New Deal


Voters over the age of 65 showed the most likelihood to rank this proposal as their
highest priority (27% ranked first and 58% ranked it first or second).

Universal Pre-K Education


This consistently ranked fourth among the four issues tested among all demographic
groups with a plurality among Democrats in each age group ranking it as their lowest
priority.

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Universality
Democratic respondents believe that free college tuition should be a policy that applies
to both two- and four-year public institutions and should not be limited by income
requirements.
When asked which statement below is closest to their thinking on the issues, complete
universality was the number one choice.

Which Statement Is Closest to Your Thinking?

7%

All 2 and 4 Year Schools


42% 2-year Only
33%
Low and Middle Income Only
Don't Support

18%

All public colleges, 2-year and 4-year, should be tuition free for anyone who is academically qualified
Free college tuition should be limited to 2-year schools, such as community college
Free college tuition should be limited to students from low- and middle-income families

Messaging
The survey also tested six potential messages that could be used to describe a reason
to support free college tuition. In this exercise, respondents reacted most positively to
messages about the cost of college for the individual – both in accessing a college
education as well as paying for it upon graduation.

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30% of respondents said “Lack of money shouldn't keep qualified students from going
to college, and the government should help” was the most persuasive message tested.
(ACCESS)
22% of respondents believed this statement was the most persuasive. “We need to
make college tuition-free so young people don't have a mountain of debt when they
finish school.” (COST/DEBT)
Messages about benefits to the economy were considered less persuasive.
Free college tuition will create a more skilled workforce – 16%
Free college tuition will strengthen our economy – 13%
Students who receive free college tuition are more likely to get higher paying jobs and
pay more in taxes than students who don't attend college – 12%

Methodology
This memo reflects the results of two separate surveys fielded on behalf of The
Campaign for Free College Tuition.
PSB fielded The Pulse Poll June 3-8, 2019. The Pulse Poll had a total sample of 1401
people aged 18+. Results were weighed to match US Census on age, gender, race and
region of country. The margin of error for the Pulse Poll is +/-2.6. The Pulse Poll
survey yielded 543 self-identified Democrats, 485 Republicans and 373 Independents of
which 103 self-identified as Lean Democrat.

PSB also fielded an N=500 Over-Sample Survey. The Over-Sample Survey was
composed of self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democrat. After
fielding both studies, PSB combined the identified Democrat respondents to create a
N=1146 sample. The margin of error on this combined sample is +/-3.0.

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