Student Loan Forgiveness Could Be Reason Democrats Lose Midterm Elections

By Zack Friedman, Contributor
President Joe Biden (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Student loan forgiveness could be the reason that Democrats lose the midterm elections.

Here’s what you need to know — and what this means for your student loans.

Student Loans

Now that student loan relief has been extended for another 90 days, student loan borrowers and student loan advocates are turning their attention to the potential of wide-scale student loan cancellation. Some say if President Joe Biden doesn’t cancel student loans for borrowers, it would be the biggest mistake that could cost Democrats congressional seats in the midterm elections on November 8, 2022. Others say student loan cancellation is poorly-targeted public policy that could hurt Democrats in the mid-term congressional elections and drive away moderates and conservatives. No matter whether you support or oppose wide-scale student loan cancellation, student loans could play a role in the congressional elections. (Student loans are paused, but here’s 6 things to do now).


Student loan cancellation: necessary to win election

Is student debt cancellation next? The latest student loan headlines are dominated with claims that Biden must cancel student loans for borrowers. If not, the argument goes, Democrats will face severe losses in the mid-term elections. Multiple members of Congress — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — have warned Biden that Democrats must make student loan forgiveness a major issue. (Biden extended student loan relief, but advocates really want student loan cancellation). They argue that Biden has a golden opportunity to use his apparent authority under the Higher Education Act of 1964 to enact wide-scale student loan cancellation through an executive order. If he doesn’t, the members of Congress say that young student loan borrowers, in particular, won’t vote for Democrats. If there is low voter turnout, for example, Democrats could lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Here’s how to get student loan forgiveness during the Biden administration).


Student loan cancellation: easiest way to lose the election

While some say student loan cancellation is essential, others say it’s the biggest mistake Biden could make if he wants to retain control of Congress. (Student loan borrowers will get $15 billion of student loan cancellation). Democrats have a slight majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. While Democrats will likely retain control of the Senate, it’s possible that Republicans regain control of the House. While student loan borrowers want student loan cancellation, it’s not universally popular. There are 45 million student loan borrowers, and they represent only 20% of the adult population. While many may support wide-scale student loan forgiveness, the vast majority of Americans don’t have student loans, already paid them off or never went to college. Student loan cancellation also may not sit well with independents and fiscal conservatives in purple counties. These voters often believe in personal responsibility and oppose social measures that redistribute wealth. Opponents of student loan cancellation also note that most young student loan borrowers won’t vote for Republicans — even if there is no wide-scale student loan cancellation — so they view Democrats’ threats to not vote or vote Republican as empty. (More student loan relief could be coming soon).


Student loans: student loan forgiveness isn’t guaranteed

Will your student loans get cancelled? Importantly, there is no guarantee that Biden or Congress will cancel student loans before the mid-term election. (What Kamala Harris means for your student loans). It’s also not guaranteed that Democrats will lose the election if Biden doesn’t cancel everyone’s student loans. While Democratic voters may support student loan forgiveness, Biden and Democrats in Congress also need to weigh the political disadvantages of enacting wide-scale student loan forgiveness. They could risk alienating moderates and conservatives, which Democrats may need to help retain control of Congress.

As Congress weighs its next steps on student loans and student loan forgiveness, you should prepare for the restart of student loan payments. The student loan payment pause won’t last for much longer. Here are some smart ways to pay off student loans and save money:


Student Loans: Related Reading

Is student debt cancellation next?

Student loan borrowers will get $15 billion of student loan cancellation

Do this while waiting for student loan forgiveness

Biden extended student loan relief, but advocates really want student loan cancellation


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