WASHINGTON — President Obama is bleeding support among Millennials just as he begins a renewed push to boost enrollment under his health care law, according to a Harvard Institute of Politics poll published Wednesday.
The new poll shows that Obama's approval rating with 18- to 29-year-olds now stands at 41%, a dramatic 11-point drop from April. Fifty-four percent said they disapprove of the president's performance.
The Harvard pollsters noted that during the time they conducted their latest survey of young Americans, national polls of the general population showed that Obama's approval rating hovered between 37% and 40%.
Support from young voters was crucial to Obama's two successful presidential campaigns.
Perhaps more troubling for Obama, the poll showed 40% of young Americans believe Obamacare will bring worse care, 51% believe it will bring higher costs and 57% said they disapprove of the president's signature law.
"Although Millennials have held firm in their approval of the president in past polls, we are now seeing a sea change among this critical demographic," said Trey Grayson, director of Harvard Institute of Politics.
Among the 18- to 29-year-olds currently without health insurance, less than a third say they're likely to enroll in the exchange. Thirteen percent say they will definitely enroll, 16% say they will probably enroll, and 41% say they are split 50-50 on whether they will enroll, according to the poll.
The latest sobering poll numbers come as Obama took part in a youth summit at the White House on Wednesday, where he encouraged uninsured young people to sign up for health care. Enrolling plenty of young, healthy people is considered critical to making the Affordable Care Act a success.
During a speech earlier on Wednesday on the economy, Obama downplayed the importance of polls, while highlighting that more than 3 million young Americans under the age of 26 have been able to stay on their parents' plan as a result of the law and hundreds of thousands of Americans–including many who have never had health insurance–are poised to be signed up for coverage by Jan. 1.
"It is these numbers — not the ones in any poll — that will ultimately determine the fate of this law," Obama said.
John Della Volpe, polling director at the Harvard Institute of Politics, however said that it's "absolutely the case" that Obama has not been effective in communicating to young Americans about his health law.
"There are very few aspects of the health care initiative that they approve of," Della Volpe said.
The poll of 2,089 young Americans was conducted Oct. 30 through Nov. 11. The margin of error is +/- 2.1 percentage points.