Recent polls have shown a significant drop in support for President Barack Obama in some key constituencies and leading some observers to opine that he is now in a "panic mode." Young people, for example, who went heavily for Obama and his tech-savvy campaign strategy, are showing distinct signs of flagging support. According to a poll released by Harvard University, the Chief Executive’s approval rating in the 18-29 year-old segment is now at 41%, which an 11-point drop since April of this year. Of those polled, 54% disapprove of Obama’s performance. The Harvard poll noted that support for Obama, according to other polls, shows his support in the general population stands at between 37% and 40%.
Apparently seeking to shore up support, Obama appeared at The American University in Washington D.C. where he received a warm welcome from students on hand. He was interviewed by MSNBC “Hardball” host Christopher Matthews, a former Democratic Party operative who once said on air that the prospective of an Obama presidency gave him a “thrill” up his leg. Of Obama’s decision to grant an interview to Matthews, Brent Bozell told Sean Hannity on the Fox network, "He's looking for the most comfortable venue that will be most sympathetic to him," Bozell said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
Obama's falling approval numbers appear to be injurious to the prospects of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), according to a survey from Public Policy Polling, which is affiliated with the Democratic party.
Senator Udall – the scion of a political family that includes a former presidential candidate and a Secretary of Interior - now leads Republican nominee Ken Buck by 46% to 42%. This poll shows results that are closer than previous surveys. Udall’s current approval rating is slightly negative: 41% disapproving and 40%.
Similarly, President Obama’s approval rating is down to 43 percent with 54 percent disapproving, down from a 48 percent to 50 percent spread when PPP polled Colorado in April of this year. Obama got 51% of the vote in Colorado in 2012.
Observers of the Colorado election expected the incumbent Democrat in the Senate race to face little difficulty in remaining in his seat. In a swing state, where there are pockets of solid Republican support, this latest poll shows that Udall is in a tight squeeze, despite weak Republican candidates. Republican Ken Buck lost to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in 2010 after making a series of controversial remarks, but still has a significant lead in the primary. The PPP poll surveyed 928 registered voters on Dec. 3-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2%.
In his interview with Matthews, Obama defended his administration’s handling of the roll-out of the Obamacare website, which has disappointed thousands of potential applicants for health care and inspired derision on the part of late-night TV hosts such as Jay Leno. Directing himself to young people, whose support for him is failing, Obama said of their failure to sign up for Obamacare, “These folks and thought I was never gonna get sick. But what you discover is that– some tough stuff happens. You– you have a run of bad luck. You suddenly need hospitalization. You have an accident. You get an illness. And for young people to recognize that it is in their financial interest and their health interest to be able to get ongoing preventive care, to be able to get — free contraception and — you know, benefits that — like mammograms that allow them to maintain their health throughout their lives, without fear of going bankrupt or making their family bankrupt if they get sick — that’s something that’s priceless.”
According to Obama, opposition to Obamacare, and his handling of the rollout, is due to a Republican mindset that dates back nearly thirty years to the Reagan era. “The entire Republican Party brand over– since Ronald Reagan has been, ‘Government’s the problem,’” Obama said. “And if you, day after day, week after week, election after election are running on that platform and that permeates our culture. And it’s picked up by, you know, ordinary citizens who grow skeptical. Then it’s not surprising that over time, trust in government declines.”
As to concerns that American citizens’ private information may be compromised by the aggressive data collection by the National Security Agency, Obama gave assurances that citizen’s information that is provided to the government is “protected.”
“You know, there are a whole bunch of things where you’re providing information to the government. It’s protected. It’s governed by a whole series of laws,” Obama said.
The Chief Executive rejected comparisons drawn between the NSA and Obamacare. “I can’t confirm or get into the details of every aspect of what the NSA does. … I’ve said before and I will say it again, the NSA actually does a very good job about not engaging in domestic surveillance, not reading people’s emails, not listening to their– the contents of their phone calls. Outside of our borders, the NSA’s more aggressive.” As to NSA over-reach, Obama said he will soon be “proposing some self-restraint on the NSA.”
Americans’ concerns over NSA snooping were only heightened ever since Gen. James Clapper, Obama’s chief national security advisor, told a Congressional panel in March that “... the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.” When asked by Rep. Ron Wyden (D) to answer whether or not the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?", Clapper answered, "No, sir." Responding to Wyden again, who said "It does not," Clapper said "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."
Claiming to be agnostic about poll results, Obama told a White House youth summit on December 4 that 3 million young people under the age of 26 have been allowed to remain under their parents’ medical insurance plan because of Obamacare. "It is these numbers -- not the ones in any poll -- that will ultimately determine the fate of this law," Obama said. However, according to The Hill, John Della Volpe of the Harvard Institute of Politics, said that Obama has not been effective in convincing young people. "There are very few aspects of the health care initiative that they approve of," Della Volpe said.