But the poll released this week suggests the debate is going on separately from how Americans experience student debt, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. And indeed, there are many reasons why voters may be feeling anxious over student debt.
Over the past several years, tuition went up while wages stayed stagnant, pushing families to spend more of their limited income on paying for college. And young people who graduated into the recession or post-recession economy have struggled to find jobs with salaries high enough to make their debt manageable.
“There’s the conversation happening at people’s kitchen tables and as people take stock of their finances,” Huelsman said. Increasingly in that conversation, “people view this as a major source of anxiety for them and their families.” [...]
Given all of these factors, it makes sense that for many voters, student debt is a source of economic anxiety in need of a big fix, Huelsman said. “If you’re calling it a crisis, you are almost by necessity saying it demands pretty bold action.”