By Dave Andrusko
Irony, or what? A poll of 2,089 young adults conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics showing massive disaffection with Obama and ObamaCare among young people comes out just as the President is speaking at a White House “Youth Summit” that aims to “help get the word out to young Americans about how to enroll” in ObamaCare, according to an statement from the Obama administration.
The numbers are staggeringly bad, both about the President’s personal popularity with 18-29 year olds (the so-called “Millennials”) and the debacle known as Healthcare.gov. Here’s National Journal’s Ron Fournier’s opening paragraphs, interpreting the results:
“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 survey, part of a unique 13-year study of the attitudes of young adults, finds that America’s rising generation is worried about its future, disillusioned with the U.S. political system, strongly opposed to the government’s domestic surveillance apparatus, and drifting away from both major parties. It blows 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.
“Obama’s approval rating among young Americans is just 41 percent, down 11 points from a year ago, and now tracking with all adults. While 55 percent said they voted for Obama in 2012, only 46 percent said they would do so again.”
Without getting too deeply into the weeds, ObamaCare relies on the willingness of younger (and healthier) people signing up for the 2010 “Affordable Care Act.” Their participation is crucial to offsetting the costs of caring for older Americans.
But, Fournier writes, according to the poll, conducted October 30 through November 11,
“57 percent of millennials disapprove of Obamacare, with 40 percent saying it will worsen their quality of care and a majority believing it will drive up costs. Only 18 percent say Obamacare will improve their care. Among 18-to-29-year-olds currently without health insurance, less than one-third say they’re likely to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges.”
One of the most intriguing results is that just one in four discussed ObamaCare with a friend or through social media, which is where you would have speculated they received most of their information. If fact more than 2/3rds of millennials said they heard about ObamaCare through the media. As Fournier points out, that’s awful news for President Obama, given how many stories have been written harshly critiquing the rollout of the health care “exchanges.”
There are clear short and longer term political implications to be drawn from the poll, whose results can be read in full at www.iop.harvard.edu/survey-young-americans’-attitude-toward-politics-and-public-service-24th-edition.
First, among the 18-24 year old cohort, 31% identify as Democrats while 25% for Republicans. The gap usually is massive.
Second, African-Americans are Obama’s and Democrats’ most loyal constituency. “Young blacks say they are much less likely to vote in the 2014 midterm election than they were in November 2009, signaling a worrisome level of engagement among a key Democratic constituency,” Fournier writes.