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Harvard poll: Young people think Obama will win re-election, but the president less popular than first year in office

Chris Moody, Yahoo News
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Students at Cleveland State University in 2008. (Tony Dejak/AP)

A new survey of young people in the United States shows that while President Barack Obama isn't nearly as popular with the demographic as he was during his first year in office, a plurality of those polled said they expect him to beat former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in November.

The wide-ranging survey of 3,096 18-to-29-year-olds conducted by Harvard University's Institute of Politics shows 43 percent said they plan to vote for Obama in November, while just 26 percent plan to vote for Romney. The last time Harvard matched Obama against a GOP challenger, in December 2011, they asked who young voters thought would win the election: 36 percent said Obama would lose, a sign that support for Obama is increasing closer to the election.

"Four months ago, when our last poll was taken, it was a difficult time for the Obama campaign," the survey's authors said in their analysis of the data. "A united Republican field was pitched against the President, and more young voters believed that he would lose re-election (36%) than win (30%). When the same question was asked in this survey, the findings are reversed—momentum seems to be building for the Obama re-election among young voters as 43 percent say he will win and 27 percent believing he will lose."

If you throw a hypothetical third-party Ron Paul candidacy into the equation, Romney loses even more support among young people: The outcome stretches from a 2 percentage point victory for Obama to 9 percentage points.

However, Obama's approval rating has dipped by 6 percentage points from Obama's first year in office, according to a Harvard poll taken in November 2009, to 52 percent from 58 percent. That could be a sign that the youth vote is far more up for grabs in 2012 than it was in 2008, when Obama overwhelmingly won the youth vote.

The poll, conducted between March 23 and April 9, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

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