The same Quinnipiac poll that shows President Barack Obama in a free fall with voters also reveals that the President who successfully sold young voters a nebulous promise of hope and change is beginning to lose his appeal with the hope and change generation.
Quinnipiac finds that only 40 percent of young people approve of the President’s performance — virtually identical to the general voting population’s 39 percent approval rating. Among 19- to 29-year-olds, 54 percent disapprove of Obama; among 30- to 49-year-olds, the figure is 51 percent. That’s right up there with the general voting population’s 54 percent disapproval rating.
A similar question about Obama’s trustworthiness produced a similar breakdown in numbers. By contrast, when young voters were asked whether they trusted Obama over Congressional Republicans on issues ranging from the economy to immigration to healthcare reform, 18- to 29-year-olds favored the GOP in every category:
- Healthcare: 41 percent (Obama); 46 percent (GOP)
- The economy: 39 percent (Obama); 49 percent (GOP)
- Immigration: 41 percent (Obama); 42 percent (GOP)
- Federal budget: 41 percent (Obama); 44 percent (GOP)
Of course, what young people think about Obama means little for Obama himself as he rides out the remainder of his Presidency. As his credibility has taken repeated hits over the course of 2013 (and especially since the Obamacare rollout fiasco), political writers and talking heads have begun throwing in “lame duck” references with increasing frequency.
But the extent to which young voters apply the guilt-by-association theory to Obama’s fellow Democrats — many of whom are distancing themselves from their key role in making Obamacare the law of the land — could help determine whether there’s a partisan realignment in Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
In a midterm election cycle that lacks a national stage for a candidate to make an overt push for young voters, it’s likely that young voter turnout for most of the 2014 Congressional races won’t approach the level seen in the past two general elections. Young voters staying at home on Election Day, according to the conventional thinking, is supposed to benefit the GOP. But next year, it could be Democratic incumbents who hope for a light turnout among the young.