Poll: Republicans think higher education is hurting the country

There’s nothing wrong with this country that a little less fancy book learnin’ won’t cure.

A new poll from Pew Research shows the assault on the idea of higher education has finally connected with Republicans, who viewed it favorably just two years ago.

But now? Fifty-eight percent of Republicans surveyed say colleges and universities “are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” Only about a third say they have a positive effect.

It’s the first time since Pew started asking the question in 2010 that the majority of Republicans thought the institutions were a bad thing.

The decline was most pronounced among 18-to-49-year-old Republicans, Pew said.

Younger Republicans continue to express more positive views of colleges than do older Republicans. But the share of Republicans under 50 who view colleges positively has fallen 21 points since 2015 (from 65% to 44%), while declining 15 points among those 50 and older (43% to 28%).

Since 2015, positive views of colleges and universities have fallen 11 points among Republicans with a college degree or more education (from 44% to 33%) and 20 points among those who do not have a college degree (57% to 37%). There also have been double-digit declines in the share of conservative Republicans (from 48% to 29%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (from 62% to 50%) who say colleges have a positive effect on the country.

Curiously, the poorest Republicans — households under $30,000 a year — have a much more positive view of higher education than those in higher incomes. That’s opposite the breakdown among Democrats in the survey. The poorest Democratic households are the ones who hold the least favorable view of colleges and universities.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)