Giuliani, Obama Top IOP Youth Poll

Democratic Senator Barack Obama and former New York City Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani lead as the presidential nominees for their respective parties among 18 to 24 year-olds, the Institute of Politics (IOP) reported in a poll released yesterday.

The IOP poll found that Democratic youngsters, unlike the rest of their party, support Obama—the junior Democratic senator from Illinois—over New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

Among the Democrats’ youngest voters, Obama leads Clinton 35 to 28 percent. According the latest national Gallup poll of Democratic voters of all ages, Clinton leads Obama by five percent points, outside the three percent margin of error.

Young Republicans, however, appear prepared to vote with the party faithful, preferring Giuliani over Arizona Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor W. Mitt Romney in similar portions to the overall GOP, according to Gallup polling.

Though Romney—a graduate of the Business School and Law School—lagged in popularity, his supporters seem to be the most dedicated; more than four out of five said they would volunteer for his campaign, compared to 48 percent of Giuliani’s supporters and 38 percent of McCain’s.

The survey, in its twelfth year, reflects Obama’s widespread popularity on campuses, IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe said.

According to Della Volpe, Obama prevails among college students because he is “more in line with young people about the global community”—referring to young pollees’ confidence that the UN and international cooperation are more effective means of conflict resolution than unilateral action by the United States.

Della Volpe warned, however, that it was “awfully early” to assume a candidate’s likelihood of winning.

Of those polled by the IOP, 42 percent said they would “definitely” vote in a primary or caucus, 61 percent said they would “definitely” vote in the general election, and three-quarters said they were registered to vote.

In terms of foreign policy issues, nearly a quarter of the polled youth prioritized stabilizing Iraq, 17 percent cited genocide in Darfur, and 4 percent said they were most concerned with the “war on terrorism.”

Marina Fisher ’09—the student co-chair of the IOP survey group—said that the strong youth concern for Darfur underscores the disparity between the interests of youth and government action.

“The amount of attention the government is giving it is relatively small [compared] to how significant it is with young people,” she said.

The survey—written by Harvard students supported by IOP advisors—was administered to 2,923 18 to 24 year-old students and non-students between March 8 and March 26. The IOP reported a three percent margin error for its findings.

—Staff writer Brenda C. Maldonado can be reached at bmaldon@fas.harvard.edu.