Youth Voters Are Not Head Over Heals for Obama, But Not Falling for Romney

Obama leads Romney among youth voters, but only half of millennials polled said they'd cast ballots.

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The honeymoon is over.

Millennials might have voted in record numbers for president Obama in 2008, but a poll out Thursday reveals only 46 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds even have plans to show up to the polls in November and roughly 40 percent of voters are not even registered to vote. [Read: Biden slams Romney with youth voters.]

Obama enjoys a seven-point lead over an unnamed Republican candidate, according to the poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

But Robert P. Jones, the PRRI CEO says excitement for the president is down considerably compared to 2008.

Without a large youth turnout, Obama's re-election prospects look bleak. In 2008, 18 to 29-years-olds were a strong force in the president's election, accounting for 18 percent of his overall votes.

But if the news is grim for Obama, the waters ahead look choppier for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney the poll indicates. [See pictures of Obama's re-election campaign.]

Of the college-aged voters that would prefer a Republican in the White House, only 34 percent reported Romney was their first choice and only 32 percent of those polled have a favorable opinion of the former Massachusetts governor.

"Romney's largest challenge is that he inspires considerably less excitement than Obama or other Republican candidates," Jones says.

The other obstacle for Romney is his free market, anti-government message.

While nearly 8 out of 10 young voters say jobs and unemployment are the country's most dire problems and only 22 percent pointed to abortion or same-sex marriage as critical issues to address in 2012, millennials' values are more in step with the Democratic party's than the GOP's.

Nearly 70 percent think the government should intervene to address wealth inequality in the country, a principal the president has made a key part of his campaign message. In the past two weeks, the President has promoted the so-called "Buffett Rule," which would raise taxes on millionaires as a solution and 72 percent of 18 to 24-years-olds support it. [Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.]

"College-age Millennials are also notable for their support for economic reforms that address the gap between the rich and the poor," says Daniel Cox, the PRRI research director. "More than 6-in-10 millennials say that one of the biggest problems in this country is that we don't give everyone an equal chance in life."

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  • Read Dems: Romney Has a Secret Agenda, Too.