Hey, the kids are alright

Monday, August 07, 2006 at 05:34 PM

Lots of progressives voice fears that the kids in the U.S. just don't understand what's being done to the country.  I've probably bemoaned that very thing as I looked around a political meeting to find that I, in my 50s, was one of the youngest people present.  But...

Here comes the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll of Americans age 18 to 24 to resurrect hope for the future:

A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll of Americans age 18 to 24 found Bush's approval rating was 20 percent, with 53 percent disapproving and 28 percent with no opinion. That compares to a 40 percent approval rating among Americans of all ages in a separate Bloomberg/Times poll.
The Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll found Bush got slightly higher approval ratings from religious young Americans than from those who consider themselves non-religious.

For example, 26 percent of those age 18 to 24 who consider themselves religious approve of the job Bush is doing, compared with 12 percent of those who say they are non-religious. The poll surveyed 811 adults aged 18-24 and 839 minors aged 12-17. It was taken June 23 to July 2 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

If early indications are a guide, Bush and the Republicans also have a challenge with the next wave of young voters. The poll found his approval rating was 21 percent among those age 12 to 17, with 44 percent disapproving and 35 percent having no opinion.

And among embryos, rumored to be predisposed toward the President, there was a shockingly low approval of only 2.2% (of course I'm kidding).

Why does Bush care about the youth vote, you say?

Much like Franklin Roosevelt attracted a new generation of voters with the New Deal, Bush and his administration have had high hopes of drawing younger voters to his party. He has sought to do that through policy initiatives aimed at creating an ``ownership society,'' and public relations tactics like a Youth Convention at the party's 2004 national convention, in which his twin daughters took the stage.

Among the initiatives aimed at drawing a new generation into the Republican fold are health-care savings accounts, elimination of the so-called marriage penalty in the U.S. tax code, and Bush's proposal to create private investment accounts from a portion of Social Security payroll taxes. `Younger Americans really want to see some leadership,'' Bush said last year as he launched his Social Security plan.

Instead, the Social Security initiative flopped in Congress after attracting criticism from the public and lawmakers of both parties, and health-care savings accounts haven't done much to expand coverage, with only about 1 percent of the U.S. population currently participating in them.

Social Issues

Bush's 2004 re-election strategy also may have damaged his party's standing with younger voters by stressing things intended to drive religious voters concerned about social issues to the ballot box, such as opposition to gay marriage.

``The very cultural issues the president wants to use to rally his party's base are exactly the issues that are alienating younger voters,'' said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. ``Across a broad swath of social issues, younger Americans see the administration as being out of line with what they believe.''

The war in Iraq is also a major factor driving down public opinion among young voters, said Hans Riemer, political director at Rock the Vote, a group that works to get young people involved in civic life.

``Young people take it very personally,'' he said. ``They feel like it's their generation that's been asked to sacrifice.''