Hiram College

Young voters nationwide (aged 18-29) still support President Obama over Mitt Romney in the Presidential race, although in fewer numbers than in 2008, and, while optimistic about the future of the country in general, they are evenly split on whether Obama and the Democrats or Romney and the Republicans will do the best job of strengthening the economy and creating jobs.

A nationwide poll of young voters by Hiram’s Garfield Institute for Public Leadership, shows young voters are optimistic about America’s future, and prefer President Obama (50%) over Mitt Romney,(37%) in the Presidential race, but that Obama’s support has slipped significantly from the levels the President enjoyed in the 2008 Presidential race, and in a previous Garfield Survey in January. The survey, released June 20, 2012, is the second in the Garfield Institute’s “Listening to Young Voters Project,” a year-long effort to gauge the attitudes of 18-29-year-olds on issues facing the country. In 2008, young voters voted in huge numbers and were critical in propelling President Obama into the White House.

The survey shows the young voters are very optimistic, or somewhat optimistic about the future of the country in general (63%-34%), but less so (58%-39% ) when asked if they are optimistic about the economy over the next year. Young voters are also evenly split (43%-43% ) on whether Romney and the Republicans Party, or Obama and the Democratic Party has the better ability to strengthen the economy and create jobs over coming months. The survey also found that a narrow majority, (47%-43%), feel small businesses hold the key to improving the economy rather than large businesses, and that government is better able to improve the economy and jobs picture than does the private business sector in general. (49%-43%).

On the other hand, the survey found that a majority of young people think that the Republican Party will best protect America’s competitiveness in the world, and has the better policies to bring down the federal deficit. By almost two to one (50%-26%), the young voters think Democrats will do the best job of making sure Social Security is available for them when they retire.

Those and other findings on party preference, jobs and the economy, education, are contained in the survey, which is the second in Hiram College’s Garfield Institute’s yearlong “Listening to Young Voters” project. The project aims to gauge the attitudes of the young demographic that turned out in unprecedented numbers in the Presidential election of 2008, and were critical in Obama’s election.

“The survey shows that there is general optimism for the future and support for the President among young people,” said Dr. Jason Johnson, scholar-in-residence at Hiram’s Garfield Institute, and a noted expert on elections and campaigns, who is heading up the Young Voters project.  “It also shows that when asked about specifics on the economy and jobs, Romney and the Republicans have made significant gains.”

Johnson will be highlighting the survey results across the country.

Johnson added that the survey clearly shows that jobs the, economy, support for education, gridlock in Congress and the future of Social Security are foremost on young voters’ minds, but that they are seriously divided on who will address the future most effectively.