In a new national poll of America’s youngest voting demographic conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics in late March and early April, 43 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said that they believe the President will win re-election.
“The way the primary played out, there is a belief right now that Obama has a better shot,” Institute of Politics Director C.M. “Trey” Grayson ’94 said. “Compared to the last poll, his approval ratings have improved. Overall there is just a more optimistic outlook for Obama.”
Republical presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, however, is struggling to reach this demographic. In this new poll, only 26 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said that they planned to support him in the 2012 election.
“I was struck that Mitt Romney’s numbers didn’t move that much,” Grayson said. “However, he obviously has a better chance over the next few months to reposition himself. It was a nasty primary, and they really went head to head, but now he can focus more on the campaign for President. His number is not lower, he just lost a few months to sway voters.”
Obama’s current 17 percent lead among 18- to 29-year-olds accompanies a six percent increase in support from an IOP poll conducted in late November, in which 37 percent of those polled at the time said that they would most likely support Obama and 26 percent said that they would vote for Romney.
The new national poll also indicated that while the health of the economy remains a primary concern for 18- to 29-year-old voters, the percentage of young Americans who believe economic conditions are improving has increased from 12 percent to 20 percent since the last poll was conducted in late November.
Despite this increase in optimism and support for Obama, young voters still report feelings of distrust towards the government and political process. 59 percent of young voters agree that elected officials are motivated by selfishness, a four percent increase from the results of the previous poll. The percentage of those polled who self-report as politically active also decreased from 25 percent in November to 21 percent.
“Now you have a generation that grew up in the throes of a great recession and have seen the consequences of that,” said Director of Polling at the Institute of Politics John Della Volpe. “Surviving college and pay off loans trumps everything else.”