Millennials Losing The Obama Love


One of the core members of President Obama’s constituency in 2008 and 2012 seems to be falling away:

President Obama’s support among young voters has fallen to 45 percent, according to a new USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll.

Forty-five percent of young Americans – aged 18 to 29 – said they approved of Obama’s job performance, compared with 46 percent who disapproved.

Forty-one percent in the USA Today/Pew poll approved of the president’s signature healthcare law, while 54 percent disapproved. Those results mirror those of the general population.

The poll surveyed 2001 adults, including 229 young Americans, between December 3rd and 8th. It has an 8-percentage-point margin of error.

This polls comes along less than two weeks after a Harvard University poll of younger Americans that showed similar results regarding this demographic groups opinions about the President, as well as their opinions about the Affordable Care Act. As I noted at the time, this doesn’t necessarily mean that younger voters are going to start flocking to the GOP but it could mean that they’ll be less likely to turn out for Democrats in the future. Admittedly, voter participation by this generation was only marginally better in 2008 and 2012 than it had been in previous Presidential elections, and near historically low norms in off-year elections for the entirety of President Obama’s time in office, but even small changes can prove to be game changers in close elections. The bigger deal, I’d suggest, is that these numbers seem to be a reflection of a rise in pessimism about the future among the generation that will be playing a large role in the life of the country for decades to come. The implications of that for the future of both politics and the economy should not be dismissed lightly.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. jib10 says:

    I think you are missing what is happening here but you are not alone. I am getting it from many older (than millennials) people who follow politics. They assume that if people who supported Obama are not happy with him, they must be moving to the right or at least the middle. Because, dont cha know, Obama is a radical leftist.

    But that is not what is happening. The young are moving farther left. And they will take the Democratic party with them. The old consensus that we all agree that wall street is good, free trade is good, deregulation is good and that we will just argue about abortion or gay marriage is over. We are now going to fight over economics.

    Although harder to see than the breakdown of the repubs with the tea party (partly because it mostly happens online, not on TV), the dems are changing. It will be a problem with Hillary, she is even more tied to wall street than Obama but she is so strong it probably wont matter. Watch the local and congressional elections to see the change for now. You have seen it already with a socialist winning in Seattle city election, defeating a classic boomer liberal who was running for his 5th term. In a few more years, Elizabeth Warren will be the new center of the Democratic party.

  2. al-Ameda says:

    Well, my daughters and their friends are all college-graduated Millenials. They are not specifically unhappy with Obama, they are however unhappy with general political tone of the country since Obama was elected. They did not anticipate that Obama would be met with unrelenting obstruction of his initiatives.

    They certainly will not channel their disaffection with general politics into a vote for a person like Paul Ryan nor for any other Republican I can think of. They will vote, and I would be extremely surprised if they do not vote for Hillary Clinton or whomever the Democratic Party nominee is.

  3. Dave D says:

    With regards to the previous comments, one of the podcasts I was listening to made a point I myself hadn’t considered about my own generation. The host was talking about why Elizabeth Warren is a threat to the Wall St. democrats and centered on the opinion that my generation has never seen a truly leftist candidate run. The right is moving more right pulling the left also to the right and has been for awhile. Had Obama not turned out to be extremely moderate even right of center on foreign policy issues he might still be in better standing. However, none of this will matter until we wise up and actually start voting, the problem that always affects the age group in question.

  4. stonetools says:

    Indeed, I think the disappointment with Obama is that he tried too hard to work with, and achieve “bipartisan compromise” with Republicans who were busy stabbing him in the back AND in the front. They certainly aren’t interested in supporting gay hating, race-baiting REpublicans who who want to turn the clock back on women’s rights to 1950, if not 1900. THey’re interested more in the Elizabeth Warren type of Democrat who is unapologetically liberal and who will fight for a liberal agenda. She represennts the future of the Democratic Party, even more than Hillary, IMO.

  5. Tillman says:


    They did not anticipate that Obama would be met with unrelenting obstruction of his initiatives.


    Disillusionment with the president is following the truth that the president really can’t accomplish squat domestically without some help from Congress.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Today in hackdom…

    voter participation by this generation was only marginally better in 2008 and 2012 than it had been in previous Presidential elections

    Actually…in the ’08 election Millennials constituted one-fifth of America’s voters…in ’12, they were 1/4…in ’16 they are predicted to be 1/3rd…and they are estimated to go on being between 1/3rd and 2/5ths of the vote through ’28.
    So the only thing that really matters…how does Clinton rank? And Ted Cruz?
    FYI…In general only 32% of Millennials say the U.S. is the greatest country in the world… they also think that life in the US has changed/is changing for the better…and that our best days are ahead of us.
    Apparently they aren’t whiney pessimists like the Republicans of your generation.

    The times they are a-changing. And it’s really not looking good for the Political Party of old wealthy white men. Get used to it.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    voter participation by this generation was only marginally better in 2008 and 2012 than it had been in previous Presidential elections

    That is probably because millenials…early 80’s to the early ‘oughts….had only barely started voting in the ’01 and ’04 elections.
    There go those damn facts…getting in the way of Doug’s fantasies again.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    So the only thing that really matters…how does Clinton rank? And Ted Cruz?

    The millenial vote from a recent Quinnipiac Poll:
    Clinton vs Paul 48-42
    vs Christie 47-30
    vs Bush 56-28
    vs Cruz 56-27
    What you really should be asking yourself is if Republicans have any sort of commitment to serve the entire nation…including millenials…or if they are just going to keep doing the bidding of the 1% exclusively?

  9. michael reynolds says:


    I think you’ve got it right.

  10. Brian says:

    @stonetools: @stonetools: Ridiculous and irrational. You must be a proressive!

  11. edmondo says:


    No, stonetools is just a DNC spokesperson.

  12. al-Ameda says:


    Ridiculous and irrational. You must be a proressive!

    Yes, he’s most likely a progressive.

  13. Tyrell says:

    @jib10: In the early 1970’s the national Democratic party leadership went far to the left and the results were disastrous as Senator McGovern was trounced by Nixon in the worst defeat in history. McGovern wss a good person but was tied to an extremist platform and radical leaders in his own party: far outside the mainstream and away from Johnson, Humphrey, Kennedy, and Fulbright . Republicans had been given the center and took full advantage of it. Only in the southern states did the Democratic party continue in the moderate, pragmatic center.