In 2008, even though many college-aged Americans weren't old enough to drink (legally), they were old enough to vote, and they turned out in record numbers to help elect Barack Obama the 44th President of the United States. In 2012, those students, and members of the so-called Millennial generation, might not be such a big help to the incumbent President.
There are no precise dates, but a "Millennial" is generally thought of as an American born between the late 1970's and the mid 1990's.
36% of Millennials now think President Obama is going to lose in his re-election bid, while just 30% think he will win, according to a new national poll by Harvard's Institute of Politics. 32% of the 18-29 set aren't sure how Obama will do. The sentiment is shared by those still on college campuses, where 37% of students predict an Obama loss in 2012, 31% think he'll win, and 31% don't know.
"While we are more than a year away," says John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard's Institute of Politics in a news release, "it's important to note that with enthusiasm about politics and Washington down, nearly three quarters of Millennials seriously concerned about jobs and the economy- and more believing that the President that they helped elect will lose, rather than win re-election- this survey may well serve as an ominous sign for Barack Obama's 2012 chances and the political engagement of America's largest generation."
Even though candidate Obama electrified college campuses with speeches about "Hope" and "Change" in 2007 and 2008, just 48% of those still in school in 2011 actually approve of the job he is doing now that he's in the White House. Overall, 46% of Millennials think he is doing a good job, and 51% disapprove.
But in a hypothetical match-up with a generic Republican, Millennials would still elect Obama by a margin of 35%-29%. On college campuses, the race is much closer: Obama 37%, Republican 34%- which is within the poll's 2.2% margin of error.
As for alternatives to the President they seem to be shying away from, young Republican primary and caucus goers prefer Romney (25%) to Ron Paul (18%) and Gingrich (17%). Those numbers have been re-adjusted since Herman Cain (who had 15% support) suspended his campaign.
It's worth pointing out that young people aren't only souring on Obama. Republicans in Congress have just a 24% approval rating among Millennials, down from 30% in February. Democrats have a 33% approval- much lower than the 45% they enjoyed in February.