Obama job approval: Climbing in 18 to 29 year old demo. Harvard’s Institute of Politics poll

SHARE Obama job approval: Climbing in 18 to 29 year old demo. Harvard’s Institute of Politics poll

WASHINGTON–While President Obama’s ratings have taken a dip lately, a new poll released Thursday by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics finds Obama is improving his standing among the nation’s youth. Recapturing the youth movement is a priority of the Obama 2012 campaign; the Obama White House this week stepped up its outreach to youths. Another reveal from the IOP survey: Some 90 percent of college students are on Facebook; that will be a factor in 2012 political communication. It’s not just e-mail anymore.

From the IOP: “A new national poll of America’s 18 to 29 year olds by

Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of

Government, now finds a majority of Millennials (55%) approve of the job

performance of President Barack Obama, a rise of six percentage points from IOP

polling conducted last October. The President’s job approval rating among

students on four-year college campuses – now 60% – increased even more (nine

percentage points) over the same period.”

below, release from Harvard’s Institute of Politics….




Facebook and other social media tools viewed as having greater political impact

than in-person advocacy

Washington, D.C. – A new national poll of America’s 18 to 29 year olds by

Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of

Government, now finds a majority of Millennials (55%) approve of the job

performance of President Barack Obama, a rise of six percentage points from IOP

polling conducted last October. The President’s job approval rating among

students on four-year college campuses – now 60% – increased even more (nine

percentage points) over the same period.

In addition to finding continued growth for Facebook among Millennials in the

last year (80% of all 18-29 year olds and 90% of four-year college students now

have a Facebook account), the poll also reveals a plurality (27%) of Millennials

believe online tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube make more of an

impact than in-person advocacy (16%) when advocating for a political position.

A detailed report on the poll’s findings is available on the Institute’s

homepage at www.iop.harvard.edu.

“As the 2012 presidential primary and caucus season draws closer, young people

will again have the opportunity to greatly impact the race for the White House,”

said Harvard’s Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson. “Political

campaigns which incorporate an effective youth outreach strategy will have a

strong advantage in the 2012 cycle.”

“What’s been proven in 2008 and in the events in the Middle East of late, is

that young adults can make the difference when inspired,” said John Della Volpe,

Director of Polling for the Institute of Politics. “And before inspiration

happens, it’s important to understand how Millennials communicate – providing

this perspective is what we aim to do every semester with our national research


The web-enabled survey of 3,018 18-29 year-old U.S. citizens with a margin of

error of +/- 2.4 percentage points (95% confidence level) conducted with

research partner Knowledge Networks for the IOP between February 11 and March 2,

2011 finds –

* Job approval ratings have risen for President Obama, especially among

college youth. America’s 18 to 29 year olds believe the overall job performance

of President Barack Obama has improved since the IOP’s October 2010 poll. After

three consecutive Institute polls showing falling approval ratings among all

Millennials, the President’s job approval now stands at 55%, 6 percentage points

higher than it was in the Fall of 2010 (49%) and close to the level of February

2010 polling (56%). President Obama’s job performance increased even more (60%:

Feb. 2011; 51%: Oct. 2010) over the past five months among four-year college


* Economy remains the top national issue of concern and source of anxiety

among 18 to 29 year olds. The overall personal financial situation for

Millennials has not improved over the past year. In February 2010 IOP polling,

when asked to rate their personal financial situation 45% of Millennials

believed their situation was “very” or “fairly bad.” Asked the same question in

February 2011, 43% said the same with 55% describing theirs as “very or fairly

good.” Currently, 56% of Millennials report they are working as a paid

employee, 4% are self employed and 22% are looking for work. When four-year

college students were asked how easy or difficult it would be for members of

their class to find permanent jobs after graduation, only 17% said it would be

“easy” with 82% indicating it would be “difficult,” similar to February 2010 IOP

polling findings. As seen in October 2010 IOP polling, a majority (57%: Feb.

2011; 53%: Oct. 2010) said economic issues are their top concern, far outpacing

the next highest issue (health care: 10%).

* Facebook adoption continues to rise, outpaces Twitter by more than

three-to-one. Over the past year, Millennial Facebook adoption has grown

significantly from 64% to 80% (90% adoption among four-year college students),

while MySpace has shed six percentage points over the same period. Although

Twitter is clearly a less relevant tool for young adults than Facebook, Twitter

accounts among young adults also rose over the past year from 15% to 24%.

* Social media tools viewed as having a greater political impact than

in-person advocacy. Among all Millennials, 27% percent reported that compared

to in-person advocacy, they believe that “advocating for a political position by

using online tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube” makes more of an

impact – while only 16 percent said it made less of an impact. Approximately

one-quarter (24%) believe the impact is about the same and one-third (33%)

either did not know or did not answer the question.

* Nearly twice as many Millennials view community service as “honorable”

compared to running for office. While nearly seven-in-ten (69%) young adults

view community service as an “honorable thing to do,” only about half that

number (36%) believe the same about running for office. These findings have not

changed significantly in the last year, when 70% found community service

honorable and 35% viewed running for office the same in February 2010 IOP


* Millennials are not optimistic about the United States’ role in the world.

America’s young adults are fairly pessimistic over the U.S.’ place in the world

in the next ten years, with 31% saying they believe it will be “worse” and only

23% saying it will be better than it is today. More Millennials believe the

U.S.’ diplomatic standing (17%, “will be better;” 24%, “will be worse”) and

economic standing (29%, “will be better;” 30%, “will be worse”) will be worse

than the proportion saying they will improve. However, nearly one-quarter of

Millennials (24%) believe the U.S. military’s standing in the world will improve

over the same period with only 15% saying it will get worse.

* America’s 18 to 29 year olds look first to major national newspapers –

followed by “Facebook Friend” statuses – to track 2012 presidential campaign.

Major national newspapers, by far, were considered the most preferred sources

for political news and information, with 49% of 18 to 29 year olds and 60% of

four-year college students reporting that they are interested in receiving

information from this source. Regarding various new technologies and social

media channels, interest was next greatest in friends who share using Facebook

(36%), official campaign Facebook feeds (29%), partisan, political blogging

websites (22%), text or mobile alerts (19%), friends who share using Twitter

(16%) and official campaign Twitter feeds (16%).

Harvard students designed the poll in consultation with IOP Polling Director

John Della Volpe, whose firm SocialSphere, Inc. commissioned Knowledge Networks

to conduct the survey. Complete results, are available – along with past

surveys – online at www.iop.harvard.edu.


Knowledge Networks conducted a study of young adults on political issues on

behalf of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. The goal of the project

was to collect 3,000 completed interviews with young Americans between 18 and 29

years old. Approximately 2,100 cases were to be collected on the

KnowledgePanel with the remaining 900 coming from an opt-in panel sample

source. The main sample data collection took place from February 11 to March 2,

2011. A small pretest was conducted prior to the main survey to examine the

accuracy of the data and the length of the interview.

Three thousand, six hundred and twenty-six (3,626) KnowledgePanel members were

assigned to the study. The cooperation rate was 57.7 percent resulting in 2,091

completed interviews. One hundred sixty eight (168) interviews were conducted

in Spanish with the remainder done in English. For the opt-in data source, 927

interviews were completed; the cooperation rate was 4.9 percent.

The web-enabled KnowledgePanel is a probability-based panel designed to be

representative of the U.S. population. Initially, participants are chosen

scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential

addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by

mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel. For those who agree to

participate, but do not already have Internet access, Knowledge Networks

provides a laptop and ISP connection at no cost. People who already have

computers and Internet service are permitted to participate using their own

equipment. Panelists then receive unique log-in information for accessing

surveys online, and are sent e-mails throughout each month inviting them to

participate in research. More technical information is available at

http://www.knowledgenetworks.com/ganp/reviewer-info.html and by request to the


# # #

Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy

School of Government, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President

Kennedy. The IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly

undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a

non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public

service. The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation

between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. More

information is available online at www.iop.harvard.edu/.

Knowledge Networks delivers quality and service to guide leaders in business,

government, and academia – uniquely bringing scientifically valid research to

the online space through its probability-based, online KnowledgePanel. The

company delivers unique study design, science, analysis, and panel maintenance,

along with a commitment to close collaboration at every stage of the research

process. Knowledge Networks leverages its expertise in brands, media,

advertising, and public policy issues to provide insights that speak directly to

clients’ most important concerns. For more information about Knowledge Networks,

visit www.knowledgenetworks.com.

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