With the success of President Obama’s signature health care law hinging on the hope that young people will enroll through the federal exchange website, it should come as a dire warning to the President and Democrats running in 2014 that young Americans stand in firm opposition to the President and his health care plan.

In a recent national survey of 18-29 year olds conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, young Americans show a significant lack of support for President Obama and his much-debated health care law.  Among these millennials, President Obama’s job approval rating stands at 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve-54{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove, a far cry from the 60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} support he received in last year’s election among this age cohort.

And, while young people have traditionally been more supportive of President Obama and his policies than the population as a whole, Obama’s approval among young Americans now matches his national rating overall of 41{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} (Gallup, 12/1-3/13):

 chart 1

*Source: Harvard Institute of Politics Report, http://iop.harvard.edu/blog/iop-releases-new-fall-poll-5-key-findings-and-trends-millennial-viewpoints?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=hero&utm_campaign=Fall2013Survey

In addition to the President’s low approval rating, his health care law also receives low marks among young people.  When asked specific questions about the health care law in the Harvard survey, respondents were split into two samples: one referring to the health care law as “The Affordable Care Act” and another referring to the health care law as “ObamaCare.”

Although these respondents were split into two samples, it doesn’t seem to have made a difference in their perception of the law.  When asked about “The Affordable Care Act,” only 39{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} of young Americans approve, while 56{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove.  Similarly, when asked about ObamaCare, 38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve and 57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove.  Clearly, disapproval extends beyond the law’s label.

Perhaps most concerning for President Obama, a plurality of young Americans say they are NOT likely to sign up for health care through government insurance exchanges, including the much-maligned federal exchange website.  In fact, only about one-in-five say they are likely to enroll:

 chart 2

Overall, the perception of the President among America’s youth has dropped considerably since his re-election just one year ago.  And, the President’s health care law faces significant hurdles getting young Americans to buy-in, as evidenced by the low percentage of young people who approve of the law.

Although we’ll have to wait until the enrollment deadline to see just how many young people sign up for ObamaCare, Democrats running in 2014 should be concerned by the dramatic shift in attitudes towards the President and his health care law among America’s youth.

Public Opinion Strategies