Education a top tier concern as Americans look to 2016

As Americans begin looking toward the 2016 elections, they say education will be a key factor in determining how they will vote for President. In the February CNN/ORC survey,* more than eight-in-ten (82{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) Americans rate this issue as an extremely (40{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) or very (42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) important consideration. The economy (88{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} total important), terrorism (80{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) and health care (79{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) round out the top tier of issues.

 How important will each of the following issues be to your vote for President next year – will it be extremely important, very important, moderately important or not that important?

 Ranked By {09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} Extremely/Very Important


The 2015 data remains consistent with Americans’ views over the last two presidential election cycles. In the summer of 2012, a similar 78{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of Americans described education as either an extremely or very important issue. In 2007, 81{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of adults rated education as an important factor in their vote for President.

There is a strong partisan dimension to the data. Nine-in-ten (90{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) Democrats say this issue will play an important role in how they vote, with half (52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) describing it as extremely important. Intensity is much lower among Republicans, with just 27{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} indicating that education will be extremely important as they consider their vote for President (75{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} total important).

Education Importance Among Key Subgroups


Across all key subgroups, majorities of Americans say education will be important to their vote; however, there are some demographic differences in intensity of these feelings as the table below illustrates:


  • Women more likely to describe education as an extremely important issue (44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) than men (35{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).
  • The issue carries more weight with younger (43{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} extremely important) and middle-aged Americans than it does with seniors (31{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).
  • Non-white adults place a higher priority on this issue (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} extremely important) than do white adults (38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).
  • By income, respondents who earn less than $50,000 a year are more likely to describe the issue as extremely important (45{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}) than are Americans in higher income brackets (34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}).

Given Americans’ concerns about a variety of challenges facing the country’s educational system that have been examined in previous posts, it is no surprise that many say the issue will factor heavily into their vote for President next year.

* CNN/ORC survey of 1,027 adults conducted by telephone, February 12-15, 2015

Public Opinion Strategies