In 2008 the Obama campaign depended heavily on high turnout among minorities and strong enthusiasm from young people. That is why the Obama re-election campaign should be very concerned that young people have recently turned sharply against him. From Democracy Corps polling:
The biggest drop-off has come among his broad base—79 percent of Democrats now say they approve of the President’s job performance, the lowest in our tracking. The biggest decline has come from young people and minorities. Among minority voters, 63 percent now say they approve of the president’s job performance, the lowest in our tracking. More significant is the drop-off among young people, who voted for the president by huge margins in 2008. Less than 40 percent of young people (under age 30) now say they approve of the President’s performance, 54 percent disapprove. This is a significant drop since August when a majority of young voters (52 percent) approved of the way the president was handling his job, 42 percent disapproved. That is a net 26-point decline in two months.
Obama went from having a solid majority of young Americans approving of his job performance to a solid majority disapproving of it, and it happened in a matter of weeks.
This should be a frankly terrifying statistic for the campaign. Not only did the enthusiasm of young people in 2008 provide Obama with a lot of votes from people who rarely go to the polls, but enthusiastic young people also made up a significant amount of the free volunteer labor behind the large ground game. Now it seems that youth energy for Obama has been either crushed by years of high unemployment and low job expectations or redirected into the occupy movement.
Looking at these awful youth numbers, it is not at all surprising that the Obama administration has decided to unveil a new initiative to help young people with student loans. While this modest student loan plan might help some, I suspect Obama support among young people is going to continue to fall as long as young people can’t find jobs, and the administration keeps pushing policies most young people strongly oppose.
If the Obama administration decides to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and continues to escalate its totally unnecessary war on medical marijuana, the re-election campaign is going to have a really hard time trying to get young people to organize for the anti-environment, anti-pot president who protected Wall Street.