One of the more striking results of the latest Elon University Poll is the distinct demarcation in North Carolina by age between those who approve of the job President Obama is doing and those who don’t.
In the 18-34 age group, 48 percent of North Carolinians approve of how Obama is handling the presidency and 38 percent disapprove. As people get older, their opinion changes. In the 35-54 group, 53 percent disapprove and only 42 percent approve. In the 55+, 50 percent disapprove and 45 approve.
Obviously, the younger demographic is important to the president. It helped him win in 2008, and he likely needs it in 2012. What are the issues those voters care about?
Interestingly, when it comes to his handling of the economy, the 18-35 set turns on the president, with 48 percent disapproving and 44 percent approving.
That could suggest that they are attracted to some of the president’s stands on “softer” issues — and it seems as if the Obama campaign knows it. Education, for instance. Or contraception. Or gay rights. And apparently younger, uncommitted voters are sick of the toxic political campaign.
But this support is soft, and it’s no certainty. Young voters as a group moved strongly to the left from 2000 to 2008, but there are indications they might not stay there. Polling suggests a Republican nominee would have a chance with them, but that will take some convincing.
It is tough to evaluate the president’s chances when there isn’t a Republican nominee. But it is clear that the enthusiasm that inspired so many younger voters to work for the Obama campaign is lacking right now.
— John Robinson