As the 2012 election season swings, little by little, into higher gear, political commentators are beginning to question President Obama’s ability to rouse the infectious energy among his followers that characterized his 2008 campaign. According to a piece for the New York Times, which relies heavily on interviews with college students who worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign, the bleak job market may dampen Millennials’ desire to work for Obama again:
Interviews here and across the country suggest that most of his college supporters of 2008 are still inclined to vote for him. But the Obama ground army of 2008 is hardly ready to jump back into the trenches, potentially depriving Mr. Obama of what had been an important force in his victory.
Despite this gloomy forecast, our 2011 American Values Survey shows that these predictions about Millennials’ apathy may be premature. Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) Millennials currently have a favorable view of Obama. And while it’s true that Millennials are not more likely than the general public to be “excited” about the Obama presidency (6% of Millennials say they are “excited,” compared to 5% of the GP), they are much happier with the Obama presidency than other age groups.
Millennials are nine points more likely than the general public to say that they are “satisfied” with the Obama presidency (37% vs. 28%). And while 1-in-10 Americans say that they are “angry” about the Obama presidency, only half as many (5%) Millennials agree.
These numbers certainly don’t guarantee that Millennials will show up in droves to phone-bank and canvass for Obama. But even if there is less “youthful energy” this time around, Obama’s campaign may still be able to harness Millennials’ satisfaction with his performance – as well as playing off the weaknesses of his opponent. If Mitt Romney, in particular, makes it to the general election, Obama may be able to use Millennials’ discomfort with Romney’s Mormon faith to his advantage (for more on this, see our Dr. Robert P. Jones’ latest article for “Figuring Faith”). Whether this will be able to counteract other Americans’ worry, disappointment, or anger is another question.