The actual news from the latest Gallup poll isn’t that veterans and active-duty military give Barack Obama a lower approval rating. It’s that Obama’s barely drafting a majority among civilians in his best age demographics. That’s bad news for the President given that younger voters notoriously turn out less in national elections:
U.S. military veterans and those currently on active military duty are less likely to approve of President Obama’s job performance than are Americans of comparable ages who are not in the military. …
Thirty-seven percent of all active-duty military personnel and veterans surveyed approved of the job Obama is doing during the January 2010 to April 2011 time frame. That compares with 48% of nonveterans interviewed during the same period.
Obama’s approval rating varies by age, with younger Americans in general most likely to approve and older Americans least likely. The gap in approval between veterans/active duty military and nonveterans persists across the age spectrum, from 18- to 29-year-olds to those 80 and older.
First, these approval ratings might not even be all that current. The survey took 238,000 responses from a time period that stretched 16 months. Obama’s approval rating in January 2010 was significantly higher in Gallup’s polling (51/43) than it was in April 2011 (44/47). The results of this analysis have been stretched out too far to make it an accurate reflection of reality today for that reason, as well as the fact that it doesn’t include any responses after the death of Osama bin Laden, which might have pushed some of the veteran/active duty responses a bit upward.
Putting those issues aside, the age demographic breakdown does show an interesting pattern. As respondents get older, the difference between service and civilians narrows considerably. It starts at 14 points among 18-29YOs, and narrows to six points for 50-59YOs before going back to ten points among 60-69YOs. Unfortunately for Obama, he only gets majority approval from civilians in the first two age categories, and not spectacular approval at that — 58% among 18-29YOs and 51% for 30-39YOs. Given that younger voters provided all of the enthusiasm for his first campaign, these are tepid numbers for an incumbent that now has to run on a disastrous economic record that only seems to be getting worse this year.