Elizabeth Warren Wins Over College Students During Democratic Debate

During the first night of CNN's Democratic presidential debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren made an impression on college students, who declared her the winner.

On Tuesday, candidates took to the stage for the second round of debates of the presidential primary season. Just as was the case during June's debate, candidates were asked to address the issue of student debt and the cost of higher education.

Over the past three decades, the cost of attending a four-year public college or university tripled and more than 45 million people collectively hold an estimated $1.6 trillion in student loans. Plans that presidential candidates shared to solve the problem varied, but largely included forgiving student debt and establishing free college options.

Warren advocated for using funds from a wealth tax to cancel student debt on an income-based scale and invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The 2020 election will be the first time many in Generation Z will be old enough to cast a ballot and after the debate, College Pulse, a survey and data analytics platform, polled about 1,500 college students to gather their thoughts on which candidate shined.

elizabeth warren democratic presidential debate college
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (R) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre Tuesday in Detroit. A poll conducted after the debate found Warren was the winner of the debate in the eyes of college students. Justin Sullivan/Getty

While no one person had overwhelming support as the winner, 27 percent of those polled, the largest amount any candidate received, selected Warren. Senator Bernie Sanders was a close second at 22 percent and in third place, with 14 percent, was "none of them."

During the debate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is still paying off his own student loans, was asked why he wouldn't support Sanders' proposal to wipe out student loan debt entirely. While it would be "great" for those who had their student debt forgiven, Buttigieg added that there would later be people taking out loans who weren't as "lucky."

"We can have debt-free college for low and middle-income students by expanding Pell grants and compelling states to pick up more of the burden," Buttigieg said. "On the back end for those who do have a lot of debt, we can make it more affordable and we can expand a public service loan forgiveness program."

Eleven percent of those polled selected Buttigieg as the winner of the debate, putting him in fourth place behind "none of them."

A June poll conducted by Barnes & Noble College found that 95 percent of college students who were already registered to vote planned on casting a ballot in 2020 and would be a "defining force." One of the top issues they're concerned with, according to the poll, was the affordability and accessibility of higher education.

However, when it came to the second democratic debate, they were largely uninterested. Only 19 percent of those College Pulse surveyed watched or listened to all or most of the debate and a whopping 72 percent not only didn't watch or listen but didn't pay attention to any news stories about it.