Ron Paul, the oldest presidential candidate this year, has been generating the strongest support from the young.
The 76-year-old representative from Texas drew the backing of 48 per cent of under-30 voters at the Republican nominating caucuses in Iowa Tuesday night, according to a new study.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania came in second among young people with 23 per cent. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts drew only 14 per cent of the under-30 crowd.
Overall, the order of finish in Iowa had Romney narrowly in first place, Santorum second, and Paul third. But Paul's strength among the young is a sign that he will remain a key factor in the GOP race because young people tend to provide a disproportionate amount of energy and volunteering muscle to a campaign.
In Iowa, young voters "turned out at a...typical rate but threw such a high proportion of their votes to Ron Paul that he finished close," said study director Peter Levine.
In a parallel development that bodes well for Romney, the former governor won 33 per cent of the Iowa votes of caucus goers 65 and older. This was the strongest showing in Iowa of any candidate among the elderly, a group that votes in high numbers across the country.
The study was conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University in Massachusetts.