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The Gazette KCRG
Posted December 15, 2011
Poll: Young Iowans pessimistic about Obama, but still favor him over GOP field

President Barack Obama prepares to address troops Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. (Travis Long/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

Young people who were a key voting bloc for President Barack Obama four years ago are more pessimistic than not that he’ll win re-election next year, but they still favor him over any of the Republicans now campaigning to take his job, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, said a plurality of millennials, 36 percent, think Obama will lose next November, while 30 percent think he’ll win.

The poll, released Thursday, was conducted between Nov. 23 and Dec. 3 among 2,023 people. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Even though the election is a year away, the poll’s authors said nearly three quarters of 18- to 29-year-olds are concerned about the economy, and while this may not send them to the Republicans’ corner, it may mean they won’t give the president the support they did four years ago.

“This survey may well serve as an ominous sign for Barack Obama’s 2012 chances and the political engagement of America’s largest generation,” said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director.

Among young Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, Mitt Romney leads the Republican presidential field with 25 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 18 percent and Newt Gingrich at 17.

The figures were derived after the poll directors reallocated the supporters for Herman Cain, who dropped out of the race just as the survey was being completed.

Romney also did the best of all the Republican candidates in a head-to-head matchup with Obama, although he still lost by an 11 point margin, 37 to 26. Gingrich, who leads the Republican field in other polls, lost to Obama in the hypothetical matchup by a 39-23 margin.

Despite this, the survey contained troubling signs for Obama. Only 46 percent of the youth polled approved of his job performance. That’s higher than the approval rating Obama gets from a cross section of the country, but it’s still below 50 percent, which many analysts consider a benchmark. Also, 52 percent of young people think the country is heading in the wrong direction.

The Occupy Wall Street movement also doesn’t appear to be capturing the attention of most millennials, the poll said. Only 32 percent of the respondents said they were following the movement very or somewhat closely, while two-thirds said they weren’t following it closely at all.

Only 21 percent said they supported the movement. At the same time, only 11 percent said they are tea party supporters.

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