In a post today at Daily Kos, DemFromCT discusses some data from the most recent ABC/WaPo poll (don’t even bother reading the article — youth are skipped over in the analysis), specifically covering health care reform. The post was inspired by a WaPo analysis, found here. What I found to be interesting was the comparison of the 18-29 year old crosstab with seniors:

On the top you can see that youth in June supported — either strongly or somewhat — the addition of a public plan to our health care system at a 71 percent clip. Two months later, the number has dropped to 61 percent. Much has been said in the blogosphere over the last week regarding the fading of Obama’s base, the youth vote included, so this drop — especially with President Obama on vacation the last week — isn’t surprising. The GOP has been able to run with the death panels meme without being challenged by the media, and until the last week or two, the DNC and OFA sat on their laurels, watching HCR opponents turn town hall meetings into a mush consisting of hyperbolic warnings of America ending and disruptive and undemocratic tactics.

But even with all of this, according to this poll, youth aren’t changing their mind about the benefits of health care reform. Responses to a question not published in DemFromCT’s analysis but published instead in the WaPo write-up show that 18-29 year olds, when presented with a chance to evaluate whether or not government-inspired reform of the health care system would help or hurt, still believe that it would be a positive development — their response didn’t change over the course of two months. Seniors, though, disagree. 48 percent of those polled believe that government health reform would harm the system, up from 39 percent in June. Furthermore, the percentage of senior respondents strongly feeling reform would do more harm than good surged seventeen points.

The bottom question in the initial set asked whether or not the health care system would lead to improved care for the respondents in particular, and the affirmative responses from June to August nearly doubled among Millennials. 15 percent believed their health care would be better in June, with 28 percent answering the same way two months later. The “betters” seem to draw both from the “worse” and “same” groups. Seniors, again, differed from youth. More seniors believed that health care reform would lead to worse health care.

So, as on many current political issues, there’s a generation gap. While both young and old are at least feeling queasy about the public option — much thanks to GOP/insurance industry-led obstructionism and timid Democratic leaders — the two groups begin to diverge from there. Elder voters, already feeling lukewarm about Obama, do not believe health care reform will benefit the system or their own health care. Youth, meanwhile, still widely support government-led health care reform, while maintaining a belief that, in the end, the government will get it right.

Youth can still serve as a base to Obama. The big question is whether or not Obama has any nerve left to ratchet up the debate, and whether or not Democratic members of Congress have the chutzpah to strongly support a public option. There is a still-formidable cohort of young voters waiting to see some political courage from Obama and the Democrats.