Candidate Barack Obama was so popular during the 2008 presidential election that people were fainting at his speeches, he was more popular that David Hasselhoff when he gave a speech in Germany, and pictures of him ripping open his shirt with a red, white and blue “O” on his chest was seen as inspiring not ironic.
Nowhere was this feverish popularity more evident than in his support amongst young and first time voters, many of whom believed that an Obama presidency would change Washington, change America and send the nation off into a bright new future.
But, it’s amazing how a little recession will take the shine off a super-hero turned president. According to the newly released Garfield Institute Young Voter’s Survey Obama may be winning the overall economic argument – but his young supporters are increasingly skeptical.
The Garfield Institute for Public Leadership is a research arm of Hiram College, who funded the survey and plans on conducting at least one more young voter survey before the election. While there are various colleges around the country that conduct polls during election years, from Marist to Quinnipiac, the Hiram College survey is unique in its dogged focus on millennial voters (18-30).
Millennial voters were seen as a key to Obama’s voting strength in 2008, not so much because of their turnout (2008 was the third highest turnout of young voters in the last 40 years), but because they formed an amazing volunteer army for Obama the candidate. However, the recession has hit this group of voters in challenging ways and their faith in Obama or either party for that matter on major economic issues is starting to waver.
When it comes to questions like “Best Understands the Problems of People Under 30” and “Will make education affordable” Obama is running laps around Mitt Romney, and has been since the first Young Voter’s Survey in January 2012.
However, in the two areas where Mitt Romney does beat out the president, “Making American competitive with other countries” and “Lowering the Budget deficit” Mitt Romney is the strong choice of young voters. Overall this seems to bode well for the president although a deeper look into the numbers does provide some interesting revelations.
Independent voters are much more likely to side with Romney on the issues where he is strongest and are somewhat lukewarm with Obama on his ability to truly turn this economy around. What’s worse though is that when asked which candidate has a better chance of strengthening the economy and creating more jobs Romney beats Obama 48% to 44% amongst DEMOCRATIC voters.
To the degree that young voters will vote their pocketbooks this fall, Obama has some serious ground to make up if he hopes to stay in the White House.
Over the coming week we will be providing more analysis from the Garfield Institute Young Voter’s Survey. To see the results in their entirety click on the Hiram College Garfield Institute website or see below:
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.