President Barack Obama is drawing his strongest support from an age group that’s been the hardest hit on the employment front: young adults.
The BGOV Barometer shows the jobless rate for Americans in their early 20s is 13.7 percent, compared with 6.3 percent for voters in their 40s and 50s, according to Labor Department figures. The president retains the support of 61 percent of voters aged 18 to 29, compared with about half of voters 30 and older, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted June 28-July 9.
“This tough economy that they’re facing hasn’t forced them to shift their allegiance,” Carroll Doherty, associate director at the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, said in a July 12 telephone interview. “They’ve been consistently, among groups, Obama’s strongest supporters. They were in 2008 and they remain so today.”
Compared with other age brackets, young voters have seen their employment prospects and income disproportionately hurt during and since the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009.
For Americans aged 20 to 24, unemployment increased to 13.7 percent in June from 10.8 percent in October 2008. Voters in the 35-to-44 age group saw a smaller rise, to 7 percent from 5.4 percent, and joblessness for those 45 to 54 rose to 6.3 percent from 4.6 percent during the same period.
“There’s not been any structural change in young peoples’ job approval for Obama since he took office,” Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll, said in a July 13 telephone interview. He said that while “it would be highly unusual if young people” were to throw their support behind Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, “young people are not as certain to vote as older people.”
Exit polling data from 2008 found that 66 percent of adults under the age of 30 voted for Obama, compared with 50 percent for all other voters. With the recent Pew poll putting their support at 61 percent, some of that youthful enthusiasm may wane.
“These voters are clearly not as excited as they were in 2008,” Doherty said. “It might show up in turnout in November.”