In mid-November, a series of national surveys included tantalizing nuggets suggesting that Millennials -- America's youngest voters -- were turning against the man they'd overwhelmingly supported for president twice. Young people were especially unforgiving on questions about Barack Obama's honesty and trustworthiness, a dramatic turn of events. But that data was derived from relatively small sub-samples of broader polls. Would a coast-to-coast survey of exclusively 18-to-29 year olds confirm or belie those apparent trends? We have our answer, courtesy of a new poll commissioned by Harvard University's Institute of Politics:
Young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and Obamacare, according to a new survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29 who are vital to the fortunes of the president and his signature health care law. The most startling finding of Harvard University's Institute of Politics: A majority of Americans under age 25--the youngest millennials--would favor throwing Obama out of office...The results blow a gaping hole in the belief among many Democrats that Obama's two elections signaled a durable grip on the youth vote. Indeed, millennials are not so hot on their president.
Before we delve into the results, it's worth examining whether the poll's results are reasonably reflective of young people's opinions, based on established data. Within this survey, young people were asked whom they supported in the 2012 presidential election. Obama beat Romney on this question by 22 points. In CNN's comprehensive post-election exit poll, Obama defeated Romney within this age cohort by 23 points. So that checks out. Also, the ethnic breakdown of the Harvard study was 59 percent white, 20 percent Hispanic and 13 percent black -- which appears to reflect the shifting racial demographics of the American electorate, particularly among the young. Finally, the sample pool for this scientific survey is relatively large at just under 2,100 respondents. So with that context in place, let's review some topline findings:
(1) One-third of young Americans consider themselves "liberal," 26 percent describe their views as "moderate," and 37 percent lean "conservative."
(2) President Obama's overall job approval rating among Millennials is (41/54), an 11-point drop since April. On every specific issue polled, Obama's level of support ranges from 28 percent (deficits, at 28/66) to 37 percent (Iran, at 37/56).
(3) Obamacare is a yoke weighing down this presidency. The law's approval rating languishes at 38 percent among young people, with a plurality responding that Obama's signature initiative will reduce the quality of their healthcare, and a majority expecting higher costs. Just 11 percent of those polled believe Obamacare will lower costs.
(4) Just 22 percent of Millennials indicated that they're likely to enroll in Obamacare. More than double that number said they're inclined against doing so. These results should worry supporters of the law, which relies on a sizable percentage of young, healthy Americans overpaying for health insurance to balance out the risk pools.
(5) Asked whether they would recall and replace their member of Congress if given the opportunity, young people split evenly on the question (45/45). What about Barack Obama? A slim plurality (47/46) said they'd boot Obama from office if given the opportunity. As National Journal's write-up above highlighted, a 52 percent majority younger Millennials (aged 18-24) said they'd show Obama the door.
Journalist Ron Fournier mines a few more details from the raft of facts and figures. Especially interesting is the closing gap between Democrats and Republicans, especially within the younger half of this age group:
Democrats' advantage among young voters is fading. Among the oldest millennials (ages 25 to 29), Democrats hold a 16-point lead over the GOP: 38 percent say they're Democrats, and 22 percent call themselves Republicans. Among the youngest of this rising generation (ages 18 to 24), the gap is just 6 points, 31 percent for Democrats and 25 percent for Republicans.
Between this question and the Obama recall numbers, it seems clear that the younger subset of Millennial voters are more conservative than their 25-to-29 year old peers. Perhaps they're less taken by Hopenchange nostalgia. I'll leave you with one last point of comparison:
Fresh polling from Pew isn't pretty for the White House either.