The following ran in the Jan. 28, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News. An SMU student contributed to this story.
January 31, 2012
By Jessica Myers
President Barack Obama faces a political landscape in Texas marked by extremes, none more so than between his youthful fans and older critics.
A mixed view emerged again last week in a Dallas Morning News poll that found 43 percent of Texans approve of his job performance vs. 47 percent who don’t.
The split was most striking on the opposite ends of the age scale: Just over half of those 18-29 like Obama, but a whopping 65 percent of those 65 and older consider him a disappointment.
“People seem to have very set opinions. There’s not a lot of wobble room there,” said the pollster, Mickey Blum.
She said the fracture in how Obama is viewed runs largely along party lines. Young voters lean Democratic or independent in Texas, and the elderly mostly back Republicans.
In many ways, the Lone Star State mirrors national attitudes. Young people in the last campaign rallied behind Obama and his promises of change, while older voters embraced more conservative candidates.
“Most of what we’re seeing is really just the partisan divide,” Blum said.
David de la Fuente ticks off Obama’s accomplishments like baseball stats.
The Southern Methodist University senior and Democrat said he appreciates the president’s dedication to affordable higher education, his push to expand jobs for young people and the legislative overhaul that allows 20-somethings to stay on their parents’ health care plans.
“I’ve just generally been happy with the way he approaches economic issues, the way the U.S. is respected in the global community, as well as the progress he’s made on social issues to make Americans equal,” he said.
A political science and sociology major, de la Fuente, 22, said Obama emphasizes the populist values and inclusive policies that matter to a younger generation.
But he worries that Americans will abandon him because they haven’t witnessed a complete transformation of the political system.
“Three years ago he had to convince us he could change Washington,” said the Oak Cliff native. “And now he has to convince us the change that he has made is good and four more years of that change would be even better.”...