Young Voter Enthusiasm for Romney High While Young Support for Obama Declines

Young U.S. voters back President Obama by a slimmer margin than they did in the presidential election of 2008.  At the same time, a surge in enthusiasm can be seen among young voters who support Republican challenger Mitt Romney.  This is according to a poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at President Obama’s alma mater, Harvard University.

Among likely voters under the age of 30, Obama leads Romney 55 percent to 36 percent. But, in the 2008 presidential election, young voters favored Obama over McCain 58 percent to 33 percent.

In 2008, Obama surpassed his opponent in obtaining the youth vote by 34 percentage points.  Currently, Obama leads Romney, among the young, by only 25 percentage points. The youth vote, in the 2008 election, was key to the president’s win.

Romney has the advantage when it comes to young voter enthusiasm.  The Harvard poll demonstrates that enthusiasm among these newest members of the electorate is higher for Romney than for Obama. Sixty-five percent of Romney’s young supporters said they will “definitely” vote in the Nov. 6 election, compared with 55 percent of Obama’s supporters who said they would “definitely” show at the polls.

The poll encompassed voters ranging in age from 18 to 24 and revealed that enthusiasm overall is declining–within a group that has historically had a lower level of enthusiasm than the general electorate. “As enthusiasm for voting continues to slip among America’s 18- to 29-year olds, the IOP’s latest poll shows a clear sentiment by young adults that Washington is broken,” Trey Grayson, director of the Institute of Politics, explained in a statement.

Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate, however, had an adverse effect on the Republican ticket.  According to the survey, 9 percent of the young respondents said that Ryan’s addition to the ticket made them “much more likely” to vote for Romney, but 40 percent said adding Ryan made them “much less likely” to lend their support to Romney.

Harvard’s poll was conducted by surveying 2,123 U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 29, was carried out between September 19 and October 3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.