Obama approval tumbles among young whites

President Obama’s approval among white millennials has slipped to the lowest point of his presidency, with a new poll showing just a third of white 18-29-year-olds approves of the job he’s doing.

The 34 percent of young whites who back Obama is still 3 percentage points higher than whites over 30 years old, according to the Gallup survey.


But the number represents a significant erosion of support from the 40 percent of white youth who supported Obama last year, and the 45 percent who approved of the president in 2012, when he was reelected.

To some extent, declining approval among white millennials mirrors frustration with Obama across all demographic groups. The president’s overall approval rating is just 42 percent, down 5 percentage points from a year ago.

Older whites have always approved of Obama less than Americans as a whole, but the younger generation used to be more aligned with the national consensus. 

In 2010, for instance, 47 percent of whites 18-29 approved of the president — the same percentage as Americans overall, and 10 points more than whites over 30. But support among the young has steadily eroded in recent years, signaling frustration among millennials with the president.

“Obama continues to enjoy higher approval ratings among all 18- to 29-year-olds — regardless of race or ethnicity — than he does among the general population, but this is largely attributable to younger age groups in the U.S. being disproportionately composed of nonwhites,” said Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport.

“In other words, a big part of the age gap in Obama's approval ratings today is attributable not so much to differences in approval within racial or ethnic groups, but to the fact that the white population in the U.S. skews older, while the nonwhite population skews younger.”

The White House has looked in recent months to address the decline. In October, the president held a town-hall meeting at a Santa Monica technology incubator to promote his record on millennials’ economic standing, accompanied by the release of a White House report.

“A lot of you entered into the workforce during the worst financial crisis and then the worst recession since the Great Depression, and a lot of cynics have said, well, that makes many of you part of a lost generation,” Obama said at the time.

“But I don’t buy that," he continued. "Because, when I travel around the country, I see the kind of energy and hope and determination that so many of you are displaying here.”