President Obama’s Jimmy Fallon appearance provided a rare political opportunity: managing to look hip and accessible while maintaining total message discipline. But how much will slow jamming his talking points help Obama reinvigorate young supporters?
That’s unclear for now, but he’s got some momentum in his favor, according to a poll of Millennials out this week from Harvard’s Institute of Politics.
At the end of 2011, young people were a pessimistic bunch. Only twelve percent of 18 to 29 year-olds thought the country was on the right track. That had ticked up to 20 percent by March.
One in five still isn’t great, but the poll also shows that during the ensuing months of GOP primary contests, Mitt Romney was not able to capitalize on the president’s softened support. Young people reporting they'll likely vote for Romney stalled, with 26 percent in December and in March.
President Obama’s support among the youth, meanwhile, is on a bit of an upswing after hitting a new low at the end of last year. Some of that lift comes from higher approval ratings among Latinos, who gave him a 12-point approval bounce. The president has also been by a solidified base, with 81 percent of young Democrats reporting they approve of him, compared to 74 percent in December.
The president’s boosted approval rating is translated into more favorable match-up against Romney. 18 to 29 year-olds prefer Obama to Romney by 17 point differential, up from six in December. One interesting note here, though, is 25 to 29 year-olds prefer Obama by a much wider margin – 23 points -- compared to just a 12 point lead among 18 to 24 year-olds.
Another striking standout is among what the poll calls the “New Religious” group of young voters. These voters who overwhelming say religious split between George W. Bush and John Kerry in 2008, but two-thirds opted for Obama in 2008. This year, they are leaning to Obama over Kerry 45-23 percent, with 33 percent reporting they’re undecided.
That makes these young religious voters a little different than religious voters overall. Gallup released a poll today that found that “very religious” voters favor Romney 54 to 37 percent, while Obama led among the “moderately religious” and the nonreligious.