Over the last five weeks of Gallup polling, here has been Obama's approval rating by age group, compared to his 2008 performance among the age group:
Obama approval, by age group, compared to 2008 exit polls
18-29: 58%, down 8%
30-49: 48%, down 4%
50-64: 46%, down 4%
65+: 43%, down 2%
Obama's biggest drop from 2008 has come from his youthful base. With unemployment dominating the news today, it is worth noting that unemployment has hit youth hardest (statistics generated on this page):
Unemployment by age, May 2010, with change from November 2008
16-24: 18.1%, up 4.1%
25-34: 10.5%, up 3.5%
35-44: 8.1%, up 2.6%
45-54: 7.7%, up 2.5%
55+: 7.1%, up 2.3%
These numbers explain both why President Obama has a high approval rate among the unemployed, and why unemployment is hurting Democratic electoral hopes. Young people, who have been hit hardest by the unemployment wave in both absolute and relative terms, give Obama his highest approval rating and also have defected from Obama more than any other age group.
Unemployment is hitting the Democratic base hard. In addition to massive yoouth unemployment, African-Americans and blue collar workers suffering wildly disproportionate. To speculate for a moment, this disproportionate unemployment may also be connected to Democratic enthusiasm problems. It is hard to be excited, or even particularly engaged in civic society, when you lack a job. This could drive Democratic turnout down, even among groups who still generally like President Obama and the Democratic Party.