Joe Biden's Failure to Fulfill Student Loan Promise Is Angering Largest Voting Bloc in U.S.

President Joe Biden's failure to implement a campaign promise to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower could jeopardize his standing with the nation's largest voting bloc.

Biden expressed support for student debt forgiveness on the campaign trail in 2020 and after becoming president-elect, but his administration has yet to act despite being urged to do so by some Democrats.

Polling suggests that younger Americans are more in favor of debt cancelation—and Biden won voters aged between 18 and 49 by wide margins in the 2020 election.

Millennials (aged 25 to 40) and Generation Z (which includes children as well as adults aged 18 to 24)—many of whom have student loan debt—are rapidly becoming the largest voting bloc when taken together.

The Center for American Progress think tank wrote in a report published last year: "While it is already the case in 2020 that millennials and Gen Z make up a larger share of eligible voters than boomers (38 percent versus 28 percent), it is likely that, by 2024, these younger cohorts will also outnumber boomers among voters."

According to Democratic data firm Catalist, millennials and Generation Z made up 31 percent of voters in 2020 while baby boomers and older generations made up 44 percent. Generation X accounted for roughly 25 percent.

This was a rise from 2016, when millennials and Gen Z made up 23 percent of the electorate and baby boomers and older generations accounted for 51 percent.

In the race for the White House, Biden won 59 percent of voters aged between 18 and 29 and 55 percent of voters aged between 30 and 49. Polls have consistently shown these groups favor debt cancelation.

A SurveyMonkey Audience poll conducted for Business Insider on February 22 this year showed that just 11 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 were opposed to some form of student debt cancellation. This was the lowest level of opposition in any age group.

That poll also found that 33 percent of those aged between 30 and 44 supported forgiving all federal student loans—the highest level of support in any age group.

A survey for Vox and Data for Progress, conducted between November 20 and 22, 2020, found that 64 percent of voters aged under 45 supported Biden canceling up to $50,000 in student debt for borrowers earning up to $125,000 per year.

A month later, a Harris poll found that 78 percent of those aged 18 to 34 supported forgiving a flat amount of student debt. This survey, conducted from December 18 to 21, also reported that 73 percent of this group supported forgiveness of all student loan debt.

The Vox and Harris polls came after Biden, then president-elect, said on November 16 that student debt was "holding people up" and reiterated his support for $10,000 forgiveness.

Biden may also face the anger of younger voters next year for failing to extend the moratorium on federal student loan repayments. This pause was introduced in 2020, extended by former President Donald Trump and then extended again by Biden.

Repayments are set to resume in February 2022, but some Democrats have called on the president to extend the pause again.

A survey conducted by the Student Debt Crisis Center between November 1 and 14 found that 89 percent of fully employed student loan borrowers said they were not financially secure enough to restart payments by February 1.

Some have called on Biden to fulfill his $10,000 debt pledge through executive action, but he has expressed skepticism about his power to do so.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested this week that the administration was still studying the matter. Psaki also said Congress could introduce a bill and the president would sign it. Passing legislation on debt forgiveness could be difficult for Democrats, however.

The rising share of the vote among millennials and Gen Z could spell trouble for Biden and the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond.

Biden Speaks in the State Dining Room
President Joe Biden at a press conference in the State Dining Room of the White House on November 6. Biden has not yet made good on a promise to cancel $10,000 of student debt per borrower. Samuel Corum/Getty Images