With all caveats about eight months being left in the campaign and all the rest, here is some new polling on general election match-ups in Pennsylvania. Strategic Vision shows Obama slightly more competitive than Clinton, but still trailing by three in Pennsylvania (47-44). Rasmussen has the McCain v. Obama contest as a dead heat right now at 44-43, and it shows some noticeably greater erosion of Democratic support for Obama compared to Clinton. McCain wins 21% of Democrats away from Obama, compared with just 14% from Clinton, but, as you might expect, he still wins independents (but gets just 49%) and she loses them (receiving 45%). This much confirms the impression that Clinton is polarising and drives independents to McCain who might otherwise remain undecided. Obama has support from just 66% of Democrats, as 9% prefer some third party candidate and 3% remain unsure. Obama’s Republican voters (17%) and McCain’s inability to consolidate the Republican vote (he gets just 74%) are the things keeping the race as close as it is. Overall, McCain leads Clinton 46-44, so once again the size of the coalitions of both candidates is roughly the same but they have different compositions.
Obama keeps losing the 18-29 year olds by incredibly large margins. They prefer McCain over Obama 55-35. 30-39 year olds help keep it close, giving Obama an even more lopsided lead in their group, 55-33. Obama loses 40-49 year olds and 65+ by large margins of 16 and 15 respectively, and just nudges ahead 47-45 among the 50-64 crowd. The unfav ratings for Obama among the 18-29 group are amazing: 51% have a “very unfavorable” view and 15% have a “somewhat unfavorable view.” His fav/unfav ratings among the youngest voters seem to be sharply divided between those view him very positively (28%) and very negatively. In some amusing and puzzling irony, the candidate who wants to “turn the page” and who claims to represent the choice of the future is deeply polarising among the youngest voters who would, one might think, be most susceptible to such talk. The candidate who talks endlessly about unity divides voters my age and younger more sharply than Hillary Clinton. (She also loses 18-29 year olds by a huge margin against McCain, but her fav/unfav ratings are not quite so starkly opposed.) Perhaps resistance to Obama among the youngest voters is greatest because they potentially have the most to lose and will take on the largest share of future burdens, and so are least inclined to take a chance on Obama. Perhaps this generation is, as conventional wisdom would have it, not as preoccupied with racial categories, and so they are much less preoccupied with the symbolism of racial reconciliation. While Obama wins overwhelmingly among young Democrats and Dem-leaning independents, most of my generation isn’t buying into the cult, and I think this is a very healthy sign.
Theories as to why most of my generation seems to dislike Obama so deeply are welcome in the comments.
Update: Then again, 18-29 year olds in Pennsylvania shockingly give Bush some of his best job performance ratings (48% with 30% giving him an “excellent” rating), so the picture is decidedly mixed. True, 45% rate his performance as “poor,” and a slim majority gives him negative marks, but disapproval of Bush is much higher in every other age group. Unfortunately, strong dislike for Obama seems to be related to the unusually strong support for Bush among the youngest voters. Bizarrely, these are the voters who have spent a large part of their politically conscious lives under the Bush administration and even now this many of them give him good ratings. Perhaps it is because they have so little against which to compare the failure of the administration that so many still approve of Mr. Bush. They are also far and away the most optimistic age group when it comes to Iraq–48% think conditions will be better in Iraq in six months. Young voters’ support for McCain is beginning to make more sense all the time, even if their perceptions of reality are strangely warped.
Second Update: After looking at the results for voters aged 18-29 in Michigan (56-33 for McCain), New Jersey (61-29 for McCain) and Washington (52-39 for McCain) that show young voters turning against Obama, I went back to check the other states to see if the pattern holds true elsewhere. In Minnesota, 18-29 year olds are very pro-Obama (62-28 over McCain). In New Hampshire, they narrowly support him 48-44, and 18-29 year olds in Wisconsin back him 49-39. Iowa is a “lean Democratic” state, and the 18-29 year olds back McCain 53-34. However, in New Mexico Obama leads in this age group 53-33. Young Nevadans split three ways 36-34-30, giving Obama a small lead in a state where he did have a large lead last month. In Florida, where he trailed McCain badly last month, he wins 18-29 year olds 65-31. In most states the youth vote is not disproportionately supportive of Obama, and in many cases is strongly opposed. That is something that deserves further investigation and explanation.