Young voters have not abandoned Obama: poll

BOSTON Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:27pm EDT

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his energy strategy at Georgetown University in Washington, March 30, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on his energy strategy at Georgetown University in Washington, March 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Young voters, who were crucial to President Barack Obama's election in 2008, have not soured on him and now support the Democrat in greater numbers than in the fall, according to a Harvard University poll.

The survey also showed that young voters worry most about the economy, and still turn to traditional news outlets for political coverage.

In the latest iteration of Harvard's Institute of Politics poll of 18 to 29 year olds, 55 percent of the so-called Millenial Generation approve of Obama's job performance, up by six percentage points from the previous poll in October.

Looking forward to 2012, Obama leads a generic Republican candidate by 12 percentage points, results show.

John Della Volpe, polling director at the Institute of Politics, called the numbers "extremely important" for Obama as the presidential race nears.

"He cannot get re-elected without a significant majority of young people," said Della Volpe.

Jobs and the economy are the top worry among the 3,000 Millenials surveyed, with health care a distant concern in comparison.

Many still view their personal financial situation as "very bad" or "fairly bad" with 82 percent of four-year college students saying it will be "difficult" to land permanent jobs after graduation.

With 80 percent of the age group on Facebook and a quarter posting on Twitter, it may not be surprising that social media tools that also include blogs and YouTube are viewed as having a "greater political impact than in-person advocacy" when it comes to campaigns.

This could make a significant difference in upcoming elections.

"Political campaigns which incorporate an effective youth outreach strategy will have a strong advantage in the 2012 cycle," said Della Volpe.

Still, traditional news outlets topped Facebook-friend status updates as the go-to source on political news and information for nearly half of those surveyed.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper, editing by Ros Krasny and Greg McCune)

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