IOP Polls Show Drop In Obama Approval

Exit polls from the 2008 presidential election placed support for Barack Obama at 66 percent from the 18-29 year old demographic. However, a new national poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics shows that his initial popularity with the younger generation may have dwindled since he began his term.

The poll, which was conducted in November of this year, showed Obama with a 58 percent approval rating on his overall job performance, but on individual issues such as health care, the economy, Iran, and Afghanistan, approval ratings were lower. The President saw approval ratings of 44 percent for both health care and the economy, and approval ratings of 42 and 41 percent for the government’s involvement in Iran and Afghanistan, respectively.

IOP Polling Director John D. Della Volpe described young adults as “outliers” when compared to the rest of the voting population because of their enthusiastic support for Obama during the election. But he said that they now mirror the rest of the population with their approval ratings.

Della Volpe said that this decrease may be caused by the realization that the issues the president has to deal with have “no quick fixes”. He also attributed the change to a different communications perspective.

“[During the election] millions of young people were touched on a regular basis by the Obama campaign, through the media, their friends, Facebook, Twitter and general daily interactions,” he said. “Now this has fallen through the cracks.”


William R. Rose ’11, leader of the IOP survey program, said that the disconnect between the approval ratings of Obama’s job performance and his handling of specific issues may be a result of people agreeing with Obama’s general message as a whole but “feel[ing] frustrated because not much is getting done.” Rose used health care legislation as an example, referring to one of the bill’s amendments that would add more restrictions on abortions offered through insurance plans.

“Many young people might find that the health care bill is not exactly the way they want to see it because of something like the Stupak amendment,” he said. The poll numbers may also indicate the extent to which America’s young adults are politically engaged and active, said Della Volpe. He called the strong opinions of the 18 to 29 year old demographic a sign that “the largest generation of voters in our history are independent, passionate and outspoken, and they should not be taken for granted.”



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