CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
Stay Connected:
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

YOUNG VOTERS AND THE HORSERACE: 52.1% Obama v. 35.1% Romney

In Three Months, Intention to Vote Rises 9.9  Points

CIRCLE today released a groundbreaking poll of young people’s views of the election. The survey, commissioned by the Youth Education Fund, is unique in that it polled 1,695 youth (ages 18-29) in June/July and 1,109 of the same youth between October 12 and 23. Surveying the same people twice provides powerful evidence of change over time.

With just 8 days until the election, CIRCLE’s new youth poll, commissioned by the Youth Engagement Fund, shows the following:

  • The proportion saying they are extremely likely to vote has risen 9.9 points, from 44.7% to 54.6%. Two-thirds (67.3%) of young adults are “very” or “extremely” likely to vote, up 7.1 percentage points since June/July.
  • The proportion who are paying attention to the election has also risen, from 56.1% to 71%.
  • If the election were held today, Obama would win the youth vote by 52.1% to 35.1% among those registered voters who are “extremely likely to vote.”

Candidate Support

If the election were held today, Obama would win the youth vote by 17 percentage points (52.1% to 35.1%) among those who are registered to vote and “extremely likely to vote,” which was our screen for likely voters.  Support for Obama rose more than 7 points among likely voters: up from 44.4% in July. In contrast, a majority (59.7%) said they were either disappointed or angry with Romney – and only 9.4% said they admired him.

Support for Romney is down slightly from 36.9% to 35.1% among likely, registered voters (within the margin of error).  Almost 32% think that Ryan is a good choice for VP, but 34% think he is a bad choice (19.5% “very bad”) and 32.5% have no opinion of him. The proportion open to voting for either candidate was 8.8%. Based on an average of national polls, about 5 percent of all likely voters are considered undecided. This slightly higher undecided rate is mainly due to the existence of first-time voters (those 18 to 21).


Obama continues to lead Romney on all aspects of leadership, from sincerity and experience to the likelihood that he will help the economy. The proportion of people who admire or are satisfied with Obama has risen to 54.5% (combined), and the proportion who are disappointed has shrunk slightly from 39% to 36.4%.   However, depending on the aspect of leadership, a fifth to a third of young voters think neither candidate meets the definition.


Engagement in the Election and Campaigns

The proportion of youth paying attention to the election has risen from 56.1% to 71%. Although a slightly higher percentage of young people reported being contacted by at least one of the campaigns (12.6% in the summer and 15.1% in Mid-October),  a vast majority of young people (84.9%) had not been contacted or were unsure if they were contacted. Of those who had been asked to vote, it was more likely to be on behalf of Obama (59.7%) than Romney (32.1%).

Attitudes Towards Issues:  Jobs and the Economy Still Lead

In both surveys, we asked young people to pick their top issue. Although we added more options in October, the proportion selecting “jobs and the economy” as the number-one issue actually rose to 37.9%, 26 points ahead of the runner-up issue, which was health care. Given the prominent recent discussion of abortion, it is worth noting that abortion is the top issue for just 3.4% of respondents, including people on both sides of that issue, and with women being twice as concerned as men..

Attitudes about the country and politics have shifted somewhat:

  • 31% of young people now feel that the US is headed in the right direction, up from 25.1% in June/July.
  • Fewer respondents feel that the government is responsive now.
  • Respondents still complain that politicians fail to address the issues that matter to them, but that belief has declined by nine points.
  • More young people (an increase of four points) now say that the federal deficit is too big and that the government is too powerful, reflecting a modest shift toward Republican positions on the economy.
  • Young people still prefer spending to stimulate the economy over cuts in taxes and spending, as they did in July, but support for tax and spending cuts has risen since the July poll.
  • Support for the Affordable Health Care Act has risen by three points, but opposition also rose by 2.5 points, and the largest group remains undecided about the Act.

Slacker Youth?

While the dominant narrative is that youth are “unengaged” or “apathetic,” 72.6% of respondents believe that, as a group, young people have the power to change things in this country.  Also, on many of the policy questions in the poll, we saw declines in those who answered “don’t know” or “unsure.”  For example, while many respondents still didn’t know how what they thought about the Affordable Health Care Act, the percentage who didn’t know dropped from 41.2% to 35.6% over the three-month period. This was true of many of the other policy-oriented questions.

Research has shown that when they are asked to get involved, young people do engage, and that once they vote, voting become a habit. Those polled in October said that appeals from parents (46.9%) and friends (41.6%, asking in person) would have the most influence on them becoming more likely to vote.

Toplines from the October poll can be found here.

Topline comparisons of questions asked in both the June / July and October polls can be found here.

Upcoming poll data to be released:

  • 10/30/12: Data on youth knowledge of state voting laws.
  • 10/31/12: Data on youth race and ethnicity.
  • 11/01/12: Data on youth education experience.

Methodology

GfK Knowledge Networks administers nationally representative surveys built on a standing panel of randomly sampled English- and Spanish-speaking households.Recruited households are given Internet access if needed. The second wave of the survey, presented here, was administered to 1,109 respondents–US citizens between the ages of 18 and 29, between October 12 and October 23, 2012. All those respondents had also been surveyed in a first wave fielded between June 22 and July 2, 2012, with a sample of 1,695. African Americans, Latinos, and individuals who have never attended college were oversampled, and unless stated otherwise results are nationally representative statistics. The survey was conducted in English and Spanish.  Margin of error was calculated at +/- 4.2%. This release is part of CIRCLE’s  #YouthTruth campaign.

9 Responses to “YOUNG VOTERS AND THE HORSERACE: 52.1% Obama v. 35.1% Romney”

  1. Obama at 52% and Romney at 35% among youth « Peter Levine Says:

    [...] at 52% and Romney at 35% among youth Posted on October 29, 2012 by Peter CIRCLE today released a poll of young people’s views of the election. Our survey, commissioned by the Youth Education Fund, is [...]

  2. Milwaukee Community Journal » WISCONSIN'S LARGEST AFRICAN AMERICAN NEWSPAPER » Youth in the horserace: 52% Obama v. 35% Romney Says:

    [...] Engagement (CIRCLE), Tufts University’s preeminent youth research organization, today released groundbreaking poll results on young people’s views of Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney and key policy [...]

  3. Obama’s Star Fades With Young Voters But Still Shines Brighter Than Romney’s | The Penn Ave Post Says:

    [...] Obama has shed much of the star power that electrified college campuses in 2008. The poll from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) shows Obama leading Mitt Romney 52 percent to 35 percent among people aged 18 to 29 years old who [...]

  4. polls as truth, polls as strategy, and how to tell the difference « Peter Levine Says:

    [...] the difference Posted on October 31, 2012 by Peter I am a pollster. My organization, CIRCLE, just released a national survey of young adults that shows Obama ahead of Romney among likely voters under 30: 52% to [...]

  5. Poll Shows Obama is the Favorite Among Young Voters Says:

    [...] would have a lead of 17 percentage points over Mitt Romney among voters under 30, according to a new poll published by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and [...]

  6. Tim’s Tips: Two-Thirds of Young People Likely to Vote Says:

    [...] majority of 18- to 29-year-olds are following the election and plan to vote Tuesday, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at [...]

  7. Youth Voters Unenthused? We Beg to Disagree! : Ms. Magazine Blog Says:

    [...] about some legit polling instead? According to a new poll (ironically titled “Young Voters and the Horserace”) released Monday from the Center [...]

  8. Youth Voters Unenthused? We Beg to Disagree! Says:

    [...] about some legit polling instead? According to a new poll (ironically titled “Young Voters and the Horserace”) released Monday from the Center for [...]

  9. In the face of economic struggles, young Obama supporters see reasons for hope « Election 2012 « Peninsula Press Says:

    [...] one of solid yet diminished enthusiasm for Obama, now a 51-year-old, swiftly graying incumbent. A poll released this week by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement [...]

Leave a Reply