Dems lost grip on millennials in midterms, says new Harvard poll

Who could have predicted this? I mean, wasn’t forcing younger Americans to buy expensive comprehensive health insurance they don’t need in order to subsidize premiums for older and sicker consumers exactly the kind of hope and change that Democrats promised millennials? They didn’t sell it quite like that, of course, but anyone who took the time to understand risk pools and utilization curves could figure it out. According to a new poll from Harvard University, millennial voters have finally done so — especially those most likely to vote next week:

A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29- year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, finds slightly more than half (51%) of young Americans who say they will “definitely be voting” in November prefer a Republican-run Congress with 47 percent favoring Democrat control – a significant departure from IOP polling findings before the last midterm elections (Sept. 2010 – 55%: prefer Democrat control; 43%: prefer Republican control). The cohort – 26% of whom report they will “definitely” vote in the midterms – appear up-for-grabs to both political parties and could be a critical swing vote in many races in November. …

The KnowledgePanel® survey of 2,029 18- to 29- year-old U.S. citizens with a margin of error of +/– 2.6 percentage points (95% confidence level) conducted with the Government and Academic Research team of GfK for the IOP between September 26 and October 9 finds:

In Contrast to Four Years Ago, Slightly More Than Half of “Likely” Young Voters Prefer a Republican-controlled Congress.

While more 18- to 29- year-olds (50%-43%) surveyed in the IOP’s fall 2014 poll would prefer that Congress be controlled by Democrats instead of Republicans, the numbers improve dramatically for the GOP when only young people who say they will “definitely vote” are studied. Among these likely voters, the IOP’s latest poll shows the preference shifting, with slightly more than half (51%) preferring a Republican-run Congress and 47 percent wanting Democrats to be in charge – a significant change from the IOP’s last midterm election poll in the fall of 2010 when Democratic control was preferred among likely voters 55 percent to 43 percent.

This survey concluded almost three weeks ago, but what would have happened in the meantime to mitigate this trend? Barack Obama continues to boot the response to Ebola, and the response to ISIS, and at the same time many of these voters will have to renavigate ObamaCare and see their prices go up for health insurance they’ll hardly use. Small wonder that millennial voters have had the same decline in approval for Obama’s job performance as the rest of the country. Obama now gets a 43/53 rating among all millennials, and 42/56 among LVs in the sample.

Ron Fournier, who sits on the IOP’s senior advisory committee, calls this “a stunning turnaround“:

In a stunning turnaround, likely voters in the so-called Millennial Generation prefer a Republican-led Congress after next week’s elections, and young Hispanics are turning sharply against President Obama. …

  • Obama’s job approval is below 40 percent on several issues including the economy, health care, the federal budget deficit, and foreign policy. Nearly 6 of 10 young Americans disapprove of Obamacare.
  • Among the one-in-four millennial voters who say they definitely will vote Tuesday, Republican-leaning constituencies are significantly more enthusiastic about elections than Democrats.
  • Just 49 percent of young Hispanics approve of Obama’s job performance, the lowest since IOP began tracking in 2009. That’s a big drop from six months ago, when his rating among young Hispanics was 60 percent, and five years ago, when 81 percent of Hispanic millennials approved of Obama’s performance.

The number on ObamaCare has to be the most worrisome of all. That was a program designed to succeed by burdening this generation of voters, a design obscured by flowery rhetoric about fairness and access. Now that they realize that younger Americans are largely footing the bill for the program, they don’t much like it — and they don’t much like the party that foisted it on them. This survey result is nothing more than chickens finally coming home to roost.

That doesn’t mean that Republicans will suddenly make lifetime adherents among millennials. It does, however, mean that Democratic GOTV efforts that relied on this demographic for both votes and activism will fall well short of the mark, and that may be very bad news not just in 2014 but also in 2016 … especially if they nominate a 69-year-old retread at the top of their ticket.