Obama loses young people on healthcare issue

The Quinnipiac University poll brought bad news virtually across the board for President Barack Obama. But three particular parts of the poll relating to young people between the ages of 18 and 29 deserves discussion.

The poll found that voters overwhelmingly disapprove of President Obama’s handling of healthcare by a 24-point margin, at 36/60. The age demographic breakdown shows a 16-point divide in his approval rating among young people, at 40/56:

 Healthcare approval rating

It’s the lowest of the four age demographics, but still very important.

When Quinnipiac asked voters who they trust to do a better job on the healthcare issue, President Obama or Republicans in Congress, voters gave a very slight edge to the GOP. It’s the first the Republicans have had an advantage of any kind on healthcare, according to the firm.

Holding any edge over President Obama on the healthcare issue, no matter how small, is important because he has staked his legacy on the issue. But the most interesting part is, yet again, the demographics. young people gave a 5-point edge to Republicans:

 Healthcare trust

The numbers represent a 6-point drop for President Obama among young people compared to last month’s Quinnipiac poll and a 13-point swing toward Republicans. October’s numbers are below:

 Healthcare trust (October)

And on the issue of Obamacare, Quinnipiac found the highest level of opposition to the law that they have recorded, with 55% opposing the law and just 39% supporting it. That’s down from the all-time high, 45/47, which was recorded just last month. But again, young people go against President Obama, rejecting his healthcare law:

 Obamacare opposition

This particular question shows an 11-point drop in support for Obamacare among young people compared to last month and a 9-point increase in opposition to the law. Here’s last month’s numbers on this exact same question:

 Obamacare opposition (October)

Why is this important? First, because 60% of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 backed President Obama in 2012. Despite that strong support, he’s losing them on issues across the board, not just on healthcare.

Secondly, this segment of the American public is what President Obama needs for his law to be successful. The administration has said that 2.7 million young and healthy to people need to enroll to help balance risk. Some supporters of the law have rolled out a series of ridiculous ads targeting young people in hopes that it’ll get them to enroll.

But the crucial segment of Americans have lost confidence in President Obama on this issue, how can supporters of the law possibly expect them to sign up for health insurance coverage through the exchanges? When they do try to enroll, they’re not finding affordable coverage. They’re seeing higher premiums, in many cases.

For some, there is simply no financial incentive to enroll for something that they don’t need or can’t afford. They’re better off paying the individual mandate tax, which is cheaper than purchasing a health plan. If these people don’t sign up by the time the open enrollment period ends on March 31, 2014, it could have an adverse effect on the health insurance market, leading to premium increases and less competition.

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