Reason-Rupe poll finds President Obama’s approval rating
has declined from 50 percent in
May to 43 percent in September; disapproval has shot up to
51 percent. Obama’s support has also slipped among young Americans,
group in his reelection coalition. Since May, Obama’s
approval among 18-29 year olds has declined 8 points from 62
percent to 54 percent. Nevertheless, the president still enjoys
support from a slim majority of young people, and administration
critics may find that young people perceive criticism of the
president as really opposition to societal progress rather than
simply an assessment of the president's policies.
FULL REASON-RUPE POLL RESULTS HERE
Young Americans Still Like the President, Disappointed
with Un-kept Promises
While Obama’s approval among young people has declined, it’s
important to note that disapproval for the president has
not exceed 40 percent since last year, standing at 38 percent in
September. This suggests that while enthusiasm for the president
has subsided since his 2012 reelection campaign, young Americans do
not despise the president. Anti-Obama memes are unlikely to be
successful in changing hearts and minds within this age group.
While young people do not
dislike the president, they are disappointed in what they perceive
to be his un-kept promises. For instance, the
contended his administration is the “most transparent
administration in history;” however, a majority (54 percent) of
young people disagrees, while 44 percent agrees.
Considerably more young people disapprove of President Obama’s
handling of foreign policy (48 percent) than of his general job
performance (38 percent), while 42 percent approve of his foreign
policy handling (54 percent approve of general job performance).
Moreover, only a third (35 percent) believe Obama has handled
foreign policy better than predecessor George W. Bush. In contrast,
25 percent say his foreign policy handling has been worse, and 37
percent say it is no different. In sum, 62 percent of young
Americans don’t perceive President Obama’s handling of
international affairs to be any better than President Bush’s.
Presidential Approval Declines Among Young White
Americans, Remains Constant Among Young Nonwhite
The Pew Research Center reported in
2009 that 61 percent of young Americans 18-29 were white and 39
percent were nonwhite, including African-Americans (14 percent),
Latinos (19 percent), and Asians (5 percent). (In contrast 80
percent of seniors are white and 20 percent are nonwhite). The
increase in diversity among today’s young people prompts further
analysis of millennials’ attitudes taking into consideration
differences in race and ethnicity. Doing so reveals young
Americans’ complex set of attitudes toward President Obama.
A slim majority (52 percent) of young white
Americans disapproves of Obama’s job performance, and 39
percent approves. In contrast, more than two-thirds of young
nonwhite Americans approves of his performance, while a
quarter disapproves. However, in January,
Obama also had near majority support of young white Americans, when
50 percent approved of his job performance and 44 percent
disapproved. Since January, support for the president has declined
11 points among young white Americans. In contrast, young nonwhite
Americans support the president in roughly equal proportions in
September as they did in January. It is necessary to keep in mind
margins of error are considerably wider for these smaller
subgroups; however, even assuming a 10-point margin of error barely
coalesces these groups.
One may have expected a decline in support for the president
since May amidst the IRS and Department of Justice scandals and
controversial revelations of NSA surveillance and the situation in
Syria. However, these data suggest that the aforementioned events
had a differential impact on perceptions of the Obama
administration between white and nonwhite Americans under 30.
Perceptions of the Obama administration’s transparency also
diverge when accounting for race and ethnicity. Young nonwhite
Americans are significantly more likely than young white Americans
to say President Obama has overseen the most transparent
administration in history by a margin of 54 to 34 percent (assuming
a 10 point margin of error barely coalesces responses).
Among young nonwhite Americans, 44 percent believe Obama has
improved upon Bush’s foreign policy handling compared to 26 percent
of young white Americans.
A larger difference in perception emerges among young nonwhite
Americans comparing general approval with Obama as president and
his handling of foreign policy specifically. When asked about the
president’s handling of foreign policy, young nonwhite Americans'
disapproval doubles that of general job performance (rising from 25
to 39 percent). In contrast, disapproval increases relatively less
among young white Americans, rising from 52 percent (general job
performance) to 58 percent (foreign policy handling).
These data indicate that the president is losing support among
young Americans. However, recent controversies and foreign policy
crises have had a differential impact among young nonwhite and
white Americans in how they perceive President Obama. The President
has lost support faster among young white Americans than nonwhite
Americans. However, young nonwhite Americans were significantly
more likely to disapprove of Obama’s specific handling of foreign
policy than they were his general job performance overall. While
not all young people may agree with the administration’s policies,
many view the President as a symbol of positive change in the
country—an indicator of greater inclusivity in politics and in
society more generally.
Critics of the president would be wise to recognize that many
young people may perceive critiques of the administration’s
policies as resistance or opposition to societal improvement.
Therefore, critics should be careful they are clear that their
disagreement is with policy not progress.
FULL REASON-RUPE POLL RESULTS HERE
Nationwide telephone poll conducted September 4-8 2013
interviewed 1013 adults on both mobile (509) and landline (504)
phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Columns may not add up to
100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full
methodology can be found here.