Poll: Obama Leads Romney In Youth Vote, But Has Trouble Too

Though Obama has widened his lead among young voters in recent months, a Harvard Institute of Politics survey shows an increasing level of disillusionment.

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President Obama has widened his lead among voters age 18-29, according to a survey released Tuesday by Harvard University's Institute of Politics. Nevertheless, said the institute's director Trey Grayson, "The president continues to struggle with key segments of the millennial demographic."

Overall, Obama leads Mitt Romney 43-26, a six point gain from late November/early December, when Obama led by 37-26. The president's improved performance has been powered by a sharp increase of support among Hispanic millennials, 66 percent of whom now approve of his job performance (up from 52 percent in November/December). Obama has also gotten a boost from Democrats, whose approval rate increased to 81 percent from 74 percent in the previous survey. Overall, according to John Della Volpe, the institute's polling director, "The Obama voters at this point seem more committed and more passionate."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Nevertheless, the new poll has some troubling data points for the administration. While the president won among whites ages 18-29 in 2008, he currently trails among them by three percentage points (37-34 percent). And the millennial generation also breaks along age lines in its support for the president. While 25- to 29-year olds support Obama by a margin of 23 points (46-23 percent over Romney), 18- to 24-year olds only give him a 12 point margin (41-29 percent). "These kids who are just voting for the first time weren't on the bandwagon," Grayson said. The younger cohort of millennials, on the other hand, know the president through four years of tough to middling economic news and grim prospects for jobs.

And this is buttressed by a growing distaste for Washington generally. "By every measure people have become more disillusioned and more cynical toward the political process," Della Volpe said.

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