Obama and the Youth Vote: Losing His Grip?

A new Harvard poll shows that Obama seems to be losing the tight grip he once held on young voters in 2008. Does this mean that young voters, of courted properly by the Romney campaign, would move from the Obama campaign to Romney camp this year?

At this point in the race, it’s difficult to say. An April Reuters-Ipsos telephone poll shows that if the race were held today, Obama would lead Romney 49% to 40% nationally. Specifically by youth, the under-35 year olds would vote for Obama over Romney 59% to 32%, with Americans over 35 years old more evenly split among these voters. Given his lead of 27 points over Romney among Americans under 35, it seems that Obama has no problem keeping the youth vote in his camp.

The biggest challenge, however, will be mobilizing these under-35 year olds to show up at the polls. Just 63% of Americans under 35 say they are certain that they’ll be voting this year, compared to the national average 77%. Obama should be more concerned about ensuring that young voters turn out at similar levels to 2008, especially given that those over-35 are much more evenly split between him and Romney.

Given that it’s still very early in the campaign, it’s too soon to say if young voters will be excited enough about Obama to actually go to the polls on election day, but the Obama campaign does have reason to be nervous about the youngest segment of the electorate.