A new CNN/ORC International poll released today reveals that Democrats may be in trouble during the 2014 midterm elections. Amid political controversies, an anemic economy and high unemployment, President Obama’s approval rating dropped eight percentage points in a single month.
Standing now at only 45 percent, this is the president’s lowest approval rating in more than a year and a half. The poll found that “half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy.”
Most startling of all is the fact that Obama’s dramatic drop was fueled by millennial discontent – disaffection among 18-29-year-olds. "The drop in Obama's support is fueled by a dramatic 17-point decline over the past month among people under 30, who, along with black Americans, had been the most loyal part of the Obama coalition," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Just last month, the unemployment rate for 18-29-year-olds rose to 11.6 percent. Those under 30 are also burdened by an average of more than $21,000 in student loan debt. And if Congress does not act by July 1, interest rates on student loans will double. With millions of Americans still struggling to get by, the poll should come as no surprise for the Obama administration.
The Rising American Electorate (RAE)—unmarried women, racial minorities and millennials—will comprise more than 52 percent of the vote in the 2014 midterm elections and are key to a Democratic win. However, the recent poll shows that members of the RAE are increasingly disenchanted with the Democratic Party.
Unless Democrats fervently support and pass progressive policies that build an economy for all, the Obama administration’s lackluster leadership could take a toll on the entire Democratic party come 2014. A progressive path forward includes: Repealing the sequester; making investments in research and education; bailing out students over banks; implementing a jobs agenda that fixes our crumbling infrastructure and creates a national green manufacturing policy; strengthening and protecting Social Security and Medicare; placing controls on the financial industry so it serves the real economy; closing tax loopholes and our trade deficit; raising the minimum wage, empowering workers, and progressive tax reform. This is a real and sustainable path forward, unlike the one we are currently on.
The 2014 elections, therefore, present a choice for Democrats. If they can rally behind a progressive strategy, members of the RAE will be much more likely to turn out in force to help ensure Democrats regain the House. If they don’t, 2014 could mirror 2010 and the losses Democrats experienced in Congress and key statewide races.
As Robert Borosage, co-director of Campaign for America’s Future, wrote recently, demography isn’t destiny.