Obama Fails to Inspire Young People to Run for Office

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 12:36 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Record numbers of young Americans twice helped Barack Obama — who campaigned on a platform of public service and volunteerism — win the presidency. The New York Times reports that enthusiasm hasn't translated to inspiring millennials to seek elected office.

"We're seeing the younger cohort is even less connected with him generally, with his policies, as well as politics generally," John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, told the Times.

Della Volpe pointed to a survey done last year of people aged 18 to 29 indicating that 70 percent of respondents said they considered community service an "honorable endeavor," yet only 35 percent felt the same way about running for office.

The Times contrasted Obama's presidential legacy to those of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, both of whom are credited with affecting generations of future politicians.

"If you were to call it an Obama generation, there was a window," Della Volpe told the newspaper, adding that "that opportunity has been lost."

A former Obama pollster, Sergio Bendixen, fingered social media for creating a generation bent on instant gratification, whose members moved on to "the next website and the next click on their computer" after the 2008 campaign frenzy.

"I just don't see the generation as all that ideological or invested in causes for the long run," Bendixen said.

Harvard's Institute of Politics found last year that 56 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds disapproved of Obamacare, Time magazine reported, while the Pew Research Center published an institute poll showing 54 percent of millennials disapproved of the president's overall job performance.

"We're now seeing a sea change among this critical demographic," Trey Grayson, the director of the institute, told Time. "You're seeing cracks in his base."

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