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Majority of Republicans think higher education is bad for America

You learn something new every day.


Andrew Couts

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Posted on Jul 10, 2017   Updated on May 23, 2021, 12:23 am CDT

Republicans and Democrats agree on few matters these days—including the value of higher education.

A Pew Research poll released on Monday found that a majority of Republican and Republican-leaning voters (58 percent) believe colleges and universities have a negative impact on the United States. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, meanwhile, view higher education as having a positive impact on the country. Overall, 55 percent of respondents view the effects of colleges and universities as positive.

Pew’s historical findings show that Republican views toward higher education have flipped in the past two years. In September 2015, for example, 54 percent of Republicans Pew polled said colleges and universities positively impacted America, whereas Democratic views on higher-education institutions have remained relatively unchanged. In 2016, Republicans were largely divided on higher education.

Republicans’ opinions on higher education appear to be largely generational. Among younger Republicans (those in the 18-to-29 age bracket), 52 percent said colleges and universities are a positive force for the country. Just 27 percent of respondents 65 or older agreed.

While Republicans may collectively hold negative views about higher education, Democrats are similarly biased against banks, with 54 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents saying financial institutions negatively impact the country.

Republicans held the highest esteem for churches and other religious institutions, with 74 percent saying they have a positive impact. A plurality of Democrats overall (50 percent) also viewed the impacts of churches positively, although 44 percent of liberal Democrats say religious institutions are having a negative impact, compared to 40 percent who say the impact is positive. A majority of more moderate Democrats viewed churches as a net positive.

The media remains the least favored category by Republicans, with 85 percent saying the media is having a negative impact on America and just 10 percent calling the media’s impact positive. Democrats are largely divided on the media’s impact, with 44 percent calling it positive and 46 percent calling it negative. However, the perception of the media is far better among college-educated Democrats, with 53 percent saying the media’s impact is positive, up from 31 percent in 2016.

The Pew survey included 2,504 adult Americans and has a total margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. View the full poll results here.

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*First Published: Jul 10, 2017, 4:23 pm CDT