June 24, 2019

Republican vs Democrat: College Grads’ Opinions on the Future Differ Widely by Political Affiliation

BOSTON—June 24, 2019 — As Democratic presidential hopefuls kick off their first debates this week, they will need to put forth policy proposals that instill more confidence among recent college graduates in their party. According to data from the Cengage Student Opportunity Index, there is a vast difference of opinion about the direction of the country among recent and upcoming college graduates, with those identifying as Democrats not nearly as optimistic about the future as Republicans.

“Once again, higher education is in the spotlight during a presidential election, and this presents an opportunity to discuss meaningful change,” said Michael E. Hansen, CEO of Cengage. “There is an affordability crisis in higher education and many Americans are questioning the value of a degree. Whether Republican or Democrat, one thing is clear: students deserve more affordable options to access education.”

The Cengage Student Opportunity Index measured the opportunity environment across 17 indicators, using existing public data and a survey of 2,500 recent and upcoming graduates.


Of surveyed graduates and upcoming graduates, Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say the country is moving in the right direction – (68 percent to 18 percent); and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say the country is headed in the wrong direction (70 percent to 21 percent).

Other key findings include:


  • Optimism and the economy: Recent and upcoming Republican college grads are more likely to be optimistic about the future than their Democrat counterparts (90 percent to 79 percent).
    • Recent and near Republican grads are also more likely than Democrats to think they will be better off than their parents (69 percent to 61 percent), and they’re much more likely to think the U.S. economic outlook is better than Democrats (73 percent to 39 percent).


  • Employment opportunity: Upcoming Republican grads are more confident than Democrats that they will land a job in their field fairly quickly after graduating (97 percent to 91 percent), and both recent and upcoming Republican grads are more confident that job will meet their salary expectations than Democrats (75 percent to 66 percent).


  • Personal life: Recent and upcoming Republican grads are also more satisfied than their Democrat counterparts with their love life (77 percent to 69 percent), physical health (75 percent to 64 percent) and mental health (80 percent to 69 percent).


For more information about the Cengage Student Opportunity Index or to download the ebook, please visit https://www.cengage.com/todays-learner/career-readiness/.


About Cengage

Cengage is the education and technology company built for learners. As the largest US-based provider of teaching and learning materials for higher education, we offer valuable options at affordable price points. Our industry-leading initiatives include Cengage Unlimited, the first-of-its-kind all-access digital subscription service. We embrace innovation to create learning experiences that build confidence and momentum toward the future students want. Headquartered in Boston, Cengage also serves K-12, library and workforce training markets around the world. Visit us at www.cengage.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About the Index Methodology

The Cengage Student Opportunity Index is calculated based on 17 indicators across four categories: Economic, Employment, Social and Personal Well-Being, with data obtained from both primary and secondary sources.

Primary data was obtained from an online survey conducted by Wakefield Research among 2,500 recent or near college graduates, defined as those who graduated in the past 12 months or who will graduate in the next 12 months. The survey was fielded between January 18 and February 1, 2019. Quotas were set to include 500 students in each of the following majors: business, biological and biomedical sciences, health professions and related programs, humanities and social sciences, and STEM subjects excluding biological and biomedical sciences. The margin of error for this study among the total sample is +/- 2.0 percentage points, calculated at the 95 percent confidence level.