Survey: Young voters, Hispanics more likely to support school choice

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Young people and Hispanics are more likely than other groups to support school choice, and the two sought-after voting blocs want candidates in this year’s elections to talk more about education.

That’s according to a poll released this afternoon by the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group that conducted a similar survey last year.

Pollsters asked 1,100 people identified as likely primary voters, including disproportionate samples of Hispanics and millennials (defined as voters born after 1981) for their opinion of school choice in general, and specific policies like charter schools, vouchers and education savings accounts.

Here’s the overview question:

Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose the concept of school choice? School choice gives parents the right to use the tax dollars associated with their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which better serves their needs.

That question might be expected to draw a positive response, and indeed, the poll finds people of all ages, ethnic groups and political parties support school choice when it’s defined that way. But some of the differences among groups are interesting, and line up with other polls on similar issues.

Among the findings:

  • Black and Hispanic voters (76 percent) are more likely than whites (68 percent) to support school choice, echoing findings from other recent surveys.
  • Despite the support among Democratic-leaning ethic groups, Republicans (80 percent) are more supportive than Democrats (65 percent).
  • Millennial school choice supporters outnumber opponents by 55 percentage points, the widest margin among generational groups (the next-widest margin is 46 percent, among baby boomers).

More than two-thirds of both millennials and Hispanics want presidential candidates to talk more about their education plans, the survey finds, compared to 55 percent of all those surveyed. See a polling memo with more details here.

“Momentum is really on the side of the school choice movement,” Matt Frendewey, a spokesman for AFC, said on a conference call explaining the results. The findings, he added, suggest younger generations, especially, are “moving away from the old definition of public education, and moving toward a definition that allows for customization.”