President Obama inspired a generation of young people to support his historic election in 2008. And in 2012, despite the struggles of his first term, Mr. Obama still managed to win the support of a full 60% of voters age 18-29. But the man who once dreamed of being a transformative leader in the Reagan mold is inspiring few of those young people to follow his lead.
“For all the talk about the movement that elected Mr. Obama, the more notable movement of Obama supporters has been away from politics. It appears that few of the young people who voted for him, and even fewer Obama campaign and administration operatives, have decided to run for office. Far more have joined the high-paid consultant ranks,” reports the New York Times. “Unlike John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, who inspired virtual legislatures of politicians and became generational touchstones, Mr. Obama has so far had little such influence.”
The Times quotes Harvard pollster John Della Volpe: “If you were to call it an Obama generation, there was a window…That opportunity has been lost.” Mr. Della Volpe’s polling of 18- to 29-year-olds shows that only 35% now believe that running for office is an honorable pursuit. “We’re seeing the younger cohort is even less connected with [Mr. Obama] generally, with his policies, as well as politics generally,” he told the Times. The paper also quotes former Obama pollster Sergio Bendixen saying that Mr. Obama’s onetime core supporters among the young “went on to the next website and then the next click on their computer. I just don’t see the generation as all that ideological or invested in causes for the long run.”
Why isn’t President Obama inspiring “virtual legislatures of politicians”? As Freeman notes, it may be because millennials have it really rough in the Obama economy and have soured on politics in general and the president in particular. And as Freeman points out, this may mean that young people won’t turn out this fall for the midterm elections, which constitutes tremendously bad news for Democrats.