Karl Rove spotlights a Polling Co. poll that shows Barack Obama’s approval among young (age 18 to 29) Americans at 53%. Perhaps more important, on the economy only 31% of young voters approve and 44% disapprove. That leaves 25% unsure, an unusually large number which, given the fact that youth unemployment is hovering around 17%, doesn’t represent anything like an endorsement of the incumbent president. Rove notes that 77% said they were delaying major life changes because of economic restraints and 27% said they were delaying going back to school or enrolling in professional training programs. The excruciatingly slow economic recovery is obviously having a huge impact on young Americans.
All of which is relevant because in 2008 Obama carried young voters by a 66%-32% margin, according to the exit poll. In contrast, he carried voters 30 and over by only 50%-49%. We haven’t seen such a difference between young voters and their elders since 1972, when Richard Nixon won more than 60% among those 30 and over and ran about even with George McGovern among the young. The arithmetic here is pretty simple. Take away Obama’s margin among young voters and his chances for reelection in 2012 don’t look terrific. And it looks like the recession and slow recovery have deprived Obama of his margin among the young, at least for now.