Oct. 29 (Bloomberg Politics) — The midterm-election polls are looking good for Republicans, and among millennials the numbers are, you might say, reddening, too. But there's little in the picture that's rosy, and even less that comes across as enthused.
A national poll released this morning by the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, based on interviews with 2,029 Americans between 18 and 29, showed that, although slightly more young people would prefer Congress to be controlled by Democrats than Republicans (50 percent to 43 percent), among those who say they will "definitely be voting" next week (26 percent), the Republicans are favored by a margin of 51 percent to 47 percent. In other words, Democrats have lost ground, but millennials view Republicans with even more disapproval. It's just that, among those feeling empowered to vote, the Republican Party will fare better.

This may have something to do with the president. Sixty percent of millennials say that they don't follow news about national politics closely. All the same, President Obama leaves a bad taste in their mouths: millennials give the chief executive negative marks in his handling of everything from the economy to health care, the federal budget deficit, foreign policy, and race relations (although on this last, the numbers are closer). Seventy-six percent call health care important in determining their vote. Nineteen percent are not enrolled in health insurance. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Young people are a potently disapproving bunch. They disapprove more strongly of Republican performance in Congress than of Democratic performance (72 percent to 60 percent). Correspondingly, they better trust the Democratic party to steward the economy. But there's little fervor for the process. A full 80 percent of young people who completed the interview—and this among those displaying participant cooperation—would not consider themselves politically active or engaged. (This is the same percentage that holds a Facebook account.)

Maybe this is because only 10 percent believe their Congress members in Washington represent their constituents more strongly than their donors, their party, and themselves. There's a lot that needs to be proved to 18-29-year-old Americans. On the whole, millennials are, as Harvard Institute of Politics Director Maggie Williams put it, "potentially up-for-grabs."

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