Poll Shows Young People Fear Country is on Wrong Track, But Still Support Obama by Wide Margin

Only one in five young people believe the United States is heading in the right direction, yet more are still likely to vote for President Barack Obama in the next election, according to a recent poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

The national poll of 3,096 millennials – the term sometimes used to refer to people between the ages of 18 and 29 – found that nearly twice as many young people thought the country is “on the wrong track” than those who said it is heading in the right direction, while 36 percent weren’t sure.

But those figures don’t necessarily paint a positive picture for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Obama’s approval ratings among those polled improved to 52 percent, up six points from a previous low in late 2011, bringing his lead over Romney to a strong 17 percentage points.

“Over the last several months, we have seen more of the millennial vote begin to solidify around President Obama and Democrats in Congress,” Harvard Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson said in a press release. “At the same time, there has been effectively no change in their support for Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress.”

Winning the millennial vote is important to President Obama who was helped to victory by the young voters in 2008. But the poll suggests the same enthusiasm for this year’s presidential election may be lacking.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed didn’t consider themselves politically engaged. Even with the bump in support for the president around the issues they said concerned them most – jobs and the economy, mainly – the outlook among millennials remains gloomy as the presidential candidates head into the general election.

“Although this generation is not as supportive of President Obama and Democrats as they may have been in the historic 2008 campaign, this in no way implies that the Republican Party has successfully captured the hearts, minds and votes of millennials,” Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe said in the same press release. “Instead, Millenials have clearly shown that they are a generation that cares deeply about our country, their role in it — and feel that the political system as represented by both parties has not effectively engaged them on the issues that will shape their and our nation’s future.”


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