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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Are young adults breaking from Democrats?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 29, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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JOHN DELLA VOLPE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Young people are politically up for grabs. They care deeply about the country. They may disapprove of Obama relative to where he was in 2008, 2009, 2010. But the message from this poll is they don't like anything or anybody associated with Washington, D.C. Among the most enthusiastic of all segments within this 18 to 29-year-old cohort are young people who voted for Mitt Romney just a couple years ago. So Republicans are more enthusiastic.

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BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: It's really interesting. You always hear young people are overwhelmingly going to vote Democratic. But Harvard has a new poll out.  First of all, the presidential approval rating with young people, take a look at this -- approval 43 percent, 53 percent disapprove. Now, congressional control, what is your preference for the outcome of the midterm elections in 2014? There you see all respondents at 50/43, but definite voters, 47 percent Democratic-led Congress, 51 percent Republican- led Congress.

And just to give you some perspective, this Harvard University poll, if you look at the same question asked back in 2010, 55 percent definite voters, Democratic-led congress, 43 percent Republican-led Congress. And remember, 2010, huge gains for Republicans. They picked up 63 House seats.  It was a big Republican year.

We're back with the panel. Steve, surprised by these numbers?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: A little bit. But if you go back and you look particularly at the polling of millennials after the revelations from Edward Snowden, after the NSA controversy, you saw an immediate and precipitous drop for President Obama's support among that age cohort. In an Economist poll that was taken two months after that he dropped 14 points.

So I think that sort of accelerated a trend that we were already seeing with a movement away from the president. But it's still striking when you look at the fact that the president is underwater in approval- disapproval, the fact that these millennials say they want to vote Republicans. If you look at the extent to which the president won them and won them clearly in 2008, he won them by 34 points. In 2012, he won them by 23 points. This is a huge and dramatic shift. And I think it reflects the level of dissatisfaction with President Obama among the populace in general but among the people who worked hardest to elect them.

BAIER: Yes, I mean, despite all a the things that we hear positively about the economy, there is still this angst, especially in young people, about where that job is going to be, living in their parents' home, all kinds of things, student loans.

NINA EASTON, COLUMNIST, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Yeah, you know I was there at the Institute of Politics in 2012 when they released that same survey. It was several months before the election and showed young voters more up for grabs. Obama was able to grab them. The economy looked like it had some trajectory, had some legs. I think these voters this year are responding to the same kinds of things that everybody else is responding to, that sense of dis-ease, unease about foreign policy, about the way this country is heading, about the stuttering economy, and the fact that they are dying under the weight of student loans. So, I think that all has an important impact.

The other interesting thing is it's having the same impact on women. So, you are seeing the gender gap close. So I wanted to point out, one race in upstate New York you have, we're about to elect, the voters there are about to elect the youngest woman to Congress ever. She's 30 years old and she's a Republican. Her name is Elise Stefanik. So, it's very interesting.

BAIER: She is leading there.

EASTON: She is leading by a lot.

BAIER: OK. Juan?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think there is still a substantial gender gap between Republicans and Democrats. I think what's striking about this is that Democrats are so reliant right now, Bret, on turnout models. If you look at the difference between people who are registered voters and those who are likely voters, what you see is a shift typically from Democratic preference to Republican preference. And that symbolizes, I think, the energy in the Republican base right now for this midterm election, and the typically you get older, whiter, more conservative church-going people to vote rather than young people, the millennials.

But then you come to this poll and you say, well, gee, you know what? Even if the Democrats are successful at pushing out a greater number of young people, this may not be the same group of young people that turned out in 2010. And that's definitely a problem for Democrats. Because if you get young people who do show up, voting with some Republican preference, well, that undermines so much of your turnout and model strategy going forward to November 4th.

BAIER: Good point. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for some relevant midterm analysis.

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