The Democratic Party has achieved the seemingly impossible and President Barack Obama, Senate leader Harry Reid and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserve a lot of credit. Under their leadership, the Democratic Party has managed to alienate one of its most reliable constituencies – Americans aged 18 to 29. A Harvard Institute of Politics survey released Wednesday shows members of that group who say they definitely plan to vote in the midterms on Tuesday favor a Republican-controlled Senate by a 51 to 47 percent margin.
The poll shows that while younger Americans still identify as Democrats by a margin of 50 to 43 percent, that’s not how they plan to vote. Democrats can no longer take young Americans for granted at the ballot. While Republicans can take heart in the poll that surveyed 2,029 people aged 18-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points, the survey suggests young Americans are more disappointed in Democratic leadership than impressed by Republicans. Nevertheless, Democrats desperately need to corral the youth vote in order to maintain control of the Senate under Democratic Sen. Harry Reid – whom many see as little more than a rubberstamp for Obama’s policies. What’s more, Democrat candidates have less than a week to bring youth back into their fold.
After voting for Mr. Obama in 2008 and 2012, the survey shows an increasing disenchantment with the party he leads and the policies he embraces. So deep is youth’s apathy that – according to all polls and most pundits – Republicans will not only maintain control over the House of Representatives, but significantly add to their numbers. Even top Democrats have acknowledged that the Democratic Party can forget about taking control of the House in 2014. Conversely, depending on the poll, Republicans should pick up anywhere from six to 21 additional seats come Tuesday.
The Harvard poll shows that Mr. Obama’s job approval rating among all young people surveyed was just 43 percent, down from 47 percent in April. For a president that wowed young people with high-brow esoteric (if vague) speeches for more than six years, the poll suggests a great divide between Mr. Obama’s speeches and reality.
“Our recent polling also shows that on a wide range of issues and questions, young voters have ceased to be outliers and now look very much like the electorate at large – pessimistic, untrusting, lacking confidence in government and suspecting the motives of the Congress in general and of their own elected leaders in particular,” the poll summary reads.
The survey raises more issues for Democrats than Republicans since the poll also shows shrinking support for Democrats among young Hispanic and Latino votes who in 2012 chose President Obama over Mitt Romney by 51 points.
Moreover, there is little time left on the clock for Democrats to change the momentum of midterm elections in their favor. Polls from the New York Times to the FiveThirtyEight survey show Republicans are favored not only to maintain control of the House of Representatives but take over control of the U.S. Senate, potentially leaving an unpopular lame-duck presidency as Mr. Obama’s permanent legacy.