Ethics & Public Policy Center

Obama’s “Coalition of the Ascendant” Is Collapsing

Published in Commentary Magazine on December 5, 2013



National Journal’s Ron Brownstein has written that it was a “coalition of the ascendant”–minorities, the millennial generation, and college-educated whites, especially women–that powered his 2008 and 2012 victories. That’s true enough–but as Brownstein’s colleague Ron Fournier points out in his column, that coalition is crumbling.

In particular, Fournier writes, young Americans are turning against Barack Obama and ObamaCare, according to a new Harvard University Institute of Politics survey of millennials, people between the ages of 18 and 29.

Here’s his summary of the findings:

Obama’s approval rating among young Americans is just 41 percent, down 11 points from a year ago, and now tracking with all adults. While 55 percent said they voted for Obama in 2012, only 46 percent said they would do so again.

When asked if they would want to recall various elected officials, 45 percent of millennials said they would oust their member of Congress; 52 percent replied “all members of Congress” should go; and 47 percent said they would recall Obama. The recall-Obama figure was even higher among the youngest millennials, ages 18 to 24, at 52 percent.

While there is no provision for a public recall of U.S. presidents, the poll question revealed just how far Obama has fallen in the eyes of young Americans.

IOP director Trey Grayson called the results a “sea change” attributable to the generation’s outsized and unmet expectations for Obama, as well as their concerns about the economy, Obamacare and government surveillance.

The president’s approval ratings among millennials are below 40 percent on the economy, health care, ObamaCare, Syria, and Iran–and below 30 percent on the budget deficit.

“The results blow a gaping hole in the belief among many Democrats that Obama’s two elections signaled a durable grip on the youth vote,” according to Fournier. “Indeed, millennials are not so hot on their president.”

More broadly, according to an Institute of Politics analysis, “Millennials are losing touch with government and its programs because they believe government is losing touch with them.”

The results of this survey, like virtually every other one over the last month or so, ought to alarm Mr. Obama. The problem for the president is that the collapse he’s experiencing isn’t isolated to one issue or one area; it’s across the board, on matters of policy and character, and seems to be accelerating.

Reality is finally catching up with Mr. Obama, and it looks to be wrecking his presidency.

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