By Amie Parnes - 10-29-14 11:23 AM EDT
Young voters prefer a Republican-led Congress, according to a new poll released on Wednesday that finds the pivotal voting bloc is "up for grabs" in next week’s election.
The survey — conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University — found a significant shift from the period before the last midterm elections four years ago. Back then, 55 percent of so-called millennials, who range in age from 18 to 29, preferred a Democratic-led Congress by a margin of 55 to 43 percent.
This year those numbers are nearly reversed, with 51 percent of millennial voters who say they are definitely going to vote saying they prefer a Republican Congress and 47 percent favoring Democrats.
The survey — released six days before Election Day — could spell trouble for Democrats, given that they have won the voting bloc in strong numbers during President Obama’s time in office.
Younger voters are souring on Obama as he enters the last two years of his tenure, with his approval rating falling from 47 percent in April to 43 percent now — the second-lowest rating among millennials since he took office. (The lowest came in November 2013, when Obama had a 41 percent approval rating.)
Perhaps the most surprising number in the poll: About 49 percent of young Hispanics approve of Obama's job performance, down from 81 percent in the fall of 2009 and the lowest number since the institute began conducting the survey.
John Della Volpe, the institute's polling director, summarized that it's not so much that young voters are becoming more Republican but that they are "less Democratic than we've seen."
Della Volpe pointed out that Republicans in Congress have an approval rating of 23 percent, but said that young voters are returning to their "pre-Obama roots" of becoming a swing constituency.
Maggie Williams, the institute's director and a former top adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008, said the poll sent a strong message to both Democrats and Republicans.
"Ignore millennial voters at your peril," Williams said.
The institute polled more than 2,000 young voters between Sept. 26 and Oct. 9.