College Students Grade Obama

In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama has faced two wars, the worst recession since the Great Depression, a raging debate on health care and angry demands that he close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp -- to name a few crises.

The fallout includes a drop in his approval ratings among young adults, who played a prominent role in propelling him to the presidency. Obama's approval rating among 18- to 24-year-olds stood at 61 percent last week, down from 80 percent last winter, according to ABC News/Washington Post polls.

That's a more precipitous decline than the poll found among adults of all ages: to 53 percent from 67 percent for the same period, indicating that even his fiercest supporters are susceptible to campaign withdrawal, political analysts say.

VIDEO: Students from the Universities of Florida and Texas grade the president.
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"I think he represented a new generation of political leadership," said Michael Smith, professor of political and social thought at the University of Virginia. "He spoke to the possibility of fundamental change in ways that maybe resonated with students. Plus, he's hip in ways that other candidates have never been hip."

Which is exactly what attracted Samantha Neugerbauer, a senior studying English at New York University. "I think part of it was just his energy and enthusiasm about politics," she said. "I felt that [John] McCain and even Hillary [Clinton], in a way, were just part of everything that I had grown up with, and Obama was something new and fresh. I thought that he might understand me better. He knows technology, and he just seemed more in tune with what I see as the world now."

Such waning enthusiasm is common, analysts say.

"This happens to every president," said Danny Hayes, a political science professor at Syracuse University. "Presidents come into office and there's a groundswell of support, largely because we, as Americans, give the commander in chief the benefit of the doubt, but more importantly because the opposition party stops criticizing him temporarily at the beginning of his term.

"But then they actually have to start governing," he continued. "What governing means is taking controversial positions and trying to do things that large numbers of people disagree with."

But some 18- to 24-year-olds say it's the inability to implement policies that generates cause for concern. Keelie Rood, a senior marketing and economics double major at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said she would give Obama a B+ for his first year. "The complete follow-through on most issues has not been seen yet," Rood said. "Like he said he was going to close Guantanamo Bay, and he keeps pushing it back, but you still hear he's planning on closing it. He's not showing anyone supertangible benefits."

Francis Cruz agreed. Despite being a public relations representative for the University of Texas College Republicans in Austin, Cruz voted for Obama. But now, he said, "he's promised change and I really haven't seen a lot of change, except for the worse. I remember about a month ago when he told everybody 'I'm going to curb spending, and I'm going to cut the deficit in half,' and this is after he's already tripled our current deficit."

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