Obama Losing Young Voters Over NSA Scandal

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Wednesday, 21 Aug 2013 10:08 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Young voters are turning away from President Barack Obama over the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, and showing their support for former contractor Edward Snowden's decision to leak the information.

According to several polls taken since Snowden revealed the NSA secrets, Obama's overall popularity among younger voters is showing double-digit drops in some cases, reports The Hill.

And while the president is unlikely ever to run for office again, the popularity drops could weaken his political power as he enters into debate this fall with Republicans over immigration and the nation's budget.

"Younger voters tend to believe the Internet should be an area of free speech and free communication, and the idea that the government is looking into what you’re doing is distasteful — and particularly distasteful if run by a president they voted for,” Julian Zelizer, a political science professor at Princeton University tells The Hill.

According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, Obama's approval rating took a 14-point hit between a survey taken just before NSA revelations and last week. In addition, a USA Today/Pew Research poll in June shows that younger voters are likely to support Snowden, with 60 percent of voters between the ages of 18 to 29 saying the leaks served the public.

In addition, voters younger than 29, by a 50-44 percent margin, said they do not believe Snowden should be punished, although older voters thought he should face legal action.

Young adults whose parents were "shocked to their core" by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks "probably have factored in 9/11 as a historical event but are more concerned by today's NSA pervasive presence," and are less likely to be sympathetic, said Southern Methodist University professor Cal Lillson.

Obama on Aug. 9 announced several NSA reforms, including one that will give lawmakers more oversight of a section of the Patriot Act that allows phone surveillance.

Obama's overall ratings are dropping, not only among the young. The RealClearPolitics average of recent polls show 50.3 percent disapproval for the president's performance with 44.5 percent approval.

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