A new study from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by 12 points (41% vs. 29% respectively) among younger Millennials (age 18-24). This is gap is nearly identical to the one found in 2012 Millennial Values Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs where Obama led a generic Republican by 13 points (49% vs. 36% respectively). Obama’s advantage, however, is smaller among younger Millennials who are registered to vote. Among registered voters, the PRRI/Berkley Center survey showed Obama leading a generic Republican by 7 points among registered younger Millennial voters (48% vs. 41% respectively).
The Harvard survey shows a stark difference between younger (age 18-24) and older (age 25-29) Millennials in terms of support for Obama. Obama’s lead over Romney about twice as large among 25-29-year-olds as it is among 18-24-year-olds (46% vs. 23%).
Many younger Millennials have never voted in a presidential election before, so their status as new voters may help to explain this striking gap. Both campaigns have a challenge ahead of them as they court the youth vote: according to the Associated Press, the job prospects for bachelor’s degree holders fell last year to the lowest level in more than a decade. Median wages are also down since 2000, and rapidly rising numbers of students are graduating from college carrying a significant amount student debt.
The Harvard poll shows that Millennials’ assessments of Obama’s job performance have also grown more favorable since December.