Nearly 80% of Tennessee Voters Back Civics Education, While Voters Are Split on National Service Requirement

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CHATTANOOGA, TN – According to a poll conducted by Embold Research for the Tennessee Democracy Forum, Tennessee voters strongly supported additional investments in civics education. At the same time, a small plurality of Tennessee voters backed a requirement that young men and women devote a year to national service.

Among all Tennessee voters, 78% supported new federal funding for civics education (46% strongly supported and 32% somewhat supported) and 14% opposed civics education funding.

Voters were asked: “Under a bill currently before Congress, the federal government would provide new funding to state governments and school districts to support quality history and civics education that informs and empowers students to participate in our constitutional democracy. The bill has support from both Democrats and Republicans. Do you support increasing federal funding for civics education in public schools?”

–       95% of Biden 2020 voters (73% strongly support) and 67% of Trump 2020 voters (27% strongly support) backed funding for civics education.

–       New funding for civics education won majority support among rural (75%), suburban (80%) and urban (79%) – with strong support ranging from 39% among rural voters to 58% among urban voters.

–       81% of women and 74% of men backed new federal funding for civics education.

–       Funding for civics education won strong majority support for voters in every age group – 79% among 18- to 34-year-olds; 77% among 35- to 49-year-olds; 79% among 50- to 64- year-olds and 77% among voters 65 years of age or older.

In June, Senators Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Civics Secures Democracy Act which would add $1 billion in annual funding for civics education in K-12 schools and higher education.

A plurality of Tennessee voters, by a margin of 49% to 43%, backed a requirement that all young men and women devote a year to national service.

Voters were asked: “Would you support or oppose requiring all young men and young women in the U.S. to give one year of service to the nation, either in the military forces or in nonmilitary work, here or abroad?”

–       Trump 2020 voters backed a national service requirement by a margin of 57% to 35% (with 31% strongly supporting), while Biden 2020 voters opposed a national service requirement by a margin of 51% to 39% (with 37% strongly opposed).

–       Rural (53% to 39%) and urban (47% to 41%) voters backed a national service requirement, while suburban (45% to 46%) voters were nearly evenly split.

–       Younger voters (18- to 34-year-olds) overwhelmingly opposed a national service requirement (26% to 65%, with 52% strongly opposed), while older voters in every other age group were split or backed national service – 35- to 49-year-olds (46% to 46%), 50- to 64- year-olds (56% to 34%) and 65 years of age or older (65% to 27%)

–       A majority of men (60% to 34%) back a national service requirement, while a majority of women are opposed (39% to 50%).

–       A plurality of white voters (49% to 42%) back a national service requirement, while a majority of black voters are opposed (37% to 53%).

For a discussion of the case for national service, see the Brookings Institution’s “Will America Embrace National Service?” report.

“As Congress continues its investigation of the January 6th investigation, it is important to turn attention to how to rebuild support for democracy in Tennessee and in the nation,” said Emily Eichenthal, Coordinator for the Tennessee Democracy Forum. Leaders on both the left and the right have looked at both civics education and the idea of making national service a norm as means to that end. That’s why we wanted to look at where Tennesseans stood on these ideas.”