Desperate for jobs, youth flee Obama

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Paul Bedard

America’s youth vote, which turned out in record numbers in 2008 and gave a historically high percentage of their support to President Obama, has soured on him because they are having a hard time finding work and, as a result, are putting off major decisions like getting married and starting a family

Obama, who won 66 percent of the 24 million voters age 18-29 in 2008, has seen that support slashed. And in a poll from Generation Opportunity, a nonprofit that seeks to engage younger voters, only 31 percent approve of Obama’s handling of youth unemployment, a number that threatens to rob him of the voter group that pushed him to victory.

“Ironically for President Obama,” said the group’s president, Paul Conway, “the hardcore reality is that young voters are now very dissatisfied with the direction of the country and are becoming more vocal in their demands for real jobs rather than promises of more unpaid internships and unproven programs.”

And, he added, their anger coupled with their social media savvy could be a threat to Obama. “These vocal young voters are even more digitally connected--and politically potent--for 2012 than they were in 2008,” Conway told Washington Secrets.

But it’s not just Obama that the millennials are upset with. Some 56 percent believe the leadership is wrong in Washington, 69 percent say political leaders do not reflect their interests, 54 percent say the country is on the wrong track and three quarters want federal spending cut.

What the Generation Opportunity poll provided to Washington Secrets shows is that the nation’s next generation of leaders are extremely concerned about their status in a way previous generations weren’t. Consider: a whopping 77 percent say that they are delaying life changes due to economic woes. Of those:

-- 44 percent are delaying buying a home.
-- 28 percent are delaying saving for retirement.
-- 23 percent are delaying starting a family.
-- 18 percent will wait to get married.

“The key issue for young adults is the lack of meaningful choices among full-time jobs that offer an avenue to a stable income, a real career, and the realization of dreams. Instead of genuinely listening to their concerns, they see a president and leaders in Congress who have ignored their strong objections to higher personal taxes, government interference with business, and reckless indebtedness to countries like communist China,” said Conway, former chief of staff of the Labor Department and Office of Personnel Management.
 
Updated Friday 3:21 p.m.

The Generation Opportunity poll is from last April, though the group says the numbers remain the same and are the basis for Conway's quotes.