Young Americans like their privacy, and they would be grateful if President Barack Obama would stop spying on them, thank you very much.
That’s what the The Hill noted yesterday as they looked at a couple of different polls released since the NSA surveillance controversy became news, one of which showed a drop in President Obama’s approval rating and the other showing support for Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower:
Some polls show a double-digit drop in Obama’s approval rating since Edward Snowden revealed NSA secrets, weakening the president ahead of fall fights with congressional Republicans over the budget and immigration.
Polling taken by The Economist and YouGov finds a 14-point swing in Obama’s approval and disapproval rating among voters aged 18-29 in surveys taken immediately before the NSA revelations and last week. Overall, the swing in Obama’s approval rating moves just four points.
A USA Today/Pew Research poll released in June found that young voters were significantly more likely to support Snowden’s decision to leak classified material. While 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said exposing the surveillance programs served the public good, just 36 percent of those over 65 said the same.
Americans under 29 said by a 50-44 percent margin the U.S. should not pursue a criminal case against him, while every other age bracket said the government should. Younger Americans were also more likely than any other age group to disapprove of the NSA’s surveillance programs overall.
The Economist/YouGov poll wasn’t the only one to show a significant drop in President Obama’s approval rating with young voters. Earlier this summer, CNN saw a 15-point drop in President Obama’s approval rating with voters between the ages of 18 and 34, from 63/34 in May to 48/50 in June.
And it’s not like President Obama is doing much to deal with the program. Sure, he’s paid lip service to ensuring privacy is protected and denied that the federal government is spying on Americans through these programs. But those statements are almost immediately drowned out by further reports of spying, whether it’s the NSA breaking its own privacy rules and procedures or more information about how vast the programs are and how much information they can grab.
President Obama’s disregard for civil liberties through NSA spying programs offers Republicans a change to capitalize on an issue important to young voters. While Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) have led the charge against the surveillance state, some Republicans insist on preserving the status quo, ultimately preventing them from making in-roads with this crucial voting bloc.