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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Missing Headline: "Obama Support Among Millennials Plummets Since 2008"

That's the headline you will not see.  Instead, you will see this headline: 
"Obama Approval Ratings On The Rise Among Millennials, Especially on College Campuses, Harvard Poll Finds."
And this headline:
Obama Job Approval Rises Among Young Voters: Millennials More Likely To Vote Obama Than GOP Candidate In 2012
And this headline:
Poll: Young voters increasingly happy with Obama
Because all those headline and story writers are comparing the Harvard poll in question to last fall, but Obama's approval remains below where it was in November 2009 and far below where it was in 2008.

Look at the chart below from the Harvard poll.  It shows increases in approval for everyone, including Republicans and Democrats in Congress.  Here is the chart from the executive summary of the poll:

The Yutes is simply happier these days than a few months ago. 

But it doesn't stop there.  Neither the headline-making report nor other Harvard poll reports that I could find measure attitudes towards Obama going back to the fall of 2008.  But other surveys indicate Obama won the youth vote by far larger measures. 

While the two data sets (job approval ratings versus actual vote) may not be identical, it is informative that Obama won the youth vote overwhelmingly in 2008:
Young voters [18-29] preferred Obama over John McCain by 68 percent to 30 percent — the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976, according to CIRCLE, a non-partisan organization that promotes research on the political engagement of Americans between ages 15 and 25.
Compare that number to the number who now say, in the current Harvard poll, they will vote for Obama over a generic Republican opponent:

Obama's support among young voters has dropped from 68% who voted for him in 2008 to 38%  who now say they will vote for him now ("unsure" was not on the ballot in 2008, so it's hard to account for that, but clearly Obamamania among the youths has dropped).

So there we have it.  Everyone is rising in approval ratings of young voters since last fall, and Obama's support among young voters remains far below fall 2008 and even below fall 2009.

But what do we get in the headlines?  The same thing we got in 2008, Obamamania.

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  1. Well, they're all young - but they're not all stupid.

    "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

  2. I hate to sound negative here, but maybe some of the new doubters think that Obama is too "conservative?"

  3. The fact that 58% of the Harvard students polled approves of the job Obama is doing shows me more than you think. It is a clear example of why you shouldn't waste your hard earned money sending your kid to a university where they are endoctrinated in left wing thought more than they are in academics.

    Oh, yeah, you will hear how the education is so much better at Harvard, Yale and Columbia, but the truth of the matter is that a student gets out of an education exactly what they put into it. Obviously, at Harvard, the goal of that university is to produce statists who subscribe to the far left.

    Yet, when you do a little research, you learn that a graduate of the University of Texas Law School earns the same starting salary as that of a Harvard Law graduate. And their parents are not left in bankruptcy.

  4. A couple friendly additions:

    1. Obama's overall RCP approval average when this poll was taken was about 49. In October, it was more like 45. So this means the polling trend among young people during this time was just a couple points different form Americans in general. Those aren't results to write home about, but the pollsters had to write about them anyway, so this is the headline we get. "Recent Trends Among Young People Differ Little Than Other Voters" is a boring headline that won't get your poll as widely read.

    2. Looking at "young voters" (Ages 18-29) between presidential elections can be misleading because we are not looking at the same people. Between each pair of presidential elections, the oldest third of that group enters their early 30's and are replaced by college kids. It is relevant to keep an eye on how liberal kids are these days compared to other times in the past, but on time horizons this large we are looking at age groups as age groups, not age groups as groups of people.

  5. @retire05 - this was not a poll of Harvard students, it was a poll taken by a group at Harvard. Strange thing is, most of your points are correct anyway.

  6. Heh heh! Before scrolling down I was thinking, "It would be nice to get Matthew's input on this."

    Professor, at your Amazon site last night, in addition to the stuff for our kids, I ordered "How to Lie with Statistics" for me. I can't wait for it to arrive.

  7. What I've found interesting here in NYC is how frequently committed Democrats now say, without prompting, that they expect this to be a one-term presidency.