President Obama poll numbers are nearing the levels he enjoyed in 2008, with one glaring exception: young people. Especially young white people. His approval rating is at 56 percent approval rating among people ages 18 to 29. That's higher than the 51 percent national average, but that's a decline of 10 points compared to the 2008 exit polls, according to the National Journal's Ronald Brownstein report. And if you want a look into the reason for the slump in one of the demographic groups that most strongly embraced Obama in 2008, it may be this: Obama's simply not cool anymore.
The New York Times' John Vinocur finds ample anecdotes to flesh out that theory at Oberlin College, a campus that prides itself for its brand of hipster left-wing activism. Among Vinocur's data points: Four undergrad editors at The Oberlin Review signed an essay lamenting that most students had opted out of agitating, unlike alums who protested slavery and the Vietnam war. A symposium last month called "Oberlin-based Perspectives on the Obama Presidency" noted that students don't think Obama's cool anymore--all his cute little quirks have become grating, a polisci professor explained, and the real Obama can't live up to their idea of him. Students aren't even impressed that Osama bin Laden was killed, protesting that the world's most wanted terrorist was unarmed when he was shot. Vinocur writes that although disaffection at Oberlin is "a speck of confetti in a storm of pre-2012 election indicators in America... it's also a fact that Mr. Obama's most diligent canvassers in 2008 often came from the country's campuses." Brownstein, too, notes that the lack of youth enthusiasm is "worrisome" and could be related to young people's higher unemployment rates.