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A Romney first: over 40% of youth vote back him

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Columnists,Politics Digest

For the first time since he began running for president, Republican Mitt Romney has the support of over 40 percent of America's youth vote, a troubling sign for President Obama who built his 2008 victory with the overwhelming support of younger, idealistic voters.

Pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics told Secrets Tuesday that Romney received 41 percent in his weekend poll of 1,117 likely voters, for the first time crossing the 40 percent mark. What's more, he said that Romney is the only Republican of those who competed in the primaries to score so high among 18-29 year olds.

"This is the first time I am seeing Romney's numbers this high among 18-29 year olds," said Zogby. "This could be trouble for Obama who needs every young voter he can get."

Zogby helped Secrets dig deeper into his weekend poll, which we reported on earlier. The poll had Romney and Obama tied at 46 percent.

Zogby has been especially interested in the youth vote this election. In 2008, 66 percent chose Obama over Sen. John McCain,the highest percentage for a Democrat in three decades. But their desire for hope and change has turned to disillusionment and unemployment. Zogby calls them "CENGAs" for "college-educated, not going anywhere."

In his latest poll, Obama receives just 49 percent of the youth vote when pitted against Romney, who received 41 percent. In another question, the independent candidacy of Gary Johnson is included, and here Obama wins 50 percent, Romney 38 percent and Johnson 5 percent.

But while taking Johnson out of the equation in the past has seen a surge in support for Obama, now the numbers for Romney--and undecideds--increase.

Zogby speculates that Romney's selection of 42-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan helped turn more younger voters to him. "It could be his youthfulness," said Zogby of Ryan. Plus, he said, more younger voters are becoming libertarian, distrustful of current elected officials and worried that they are going to get stuck with the nation's looming fiscal bill.

"They want change," said Zogby.