(CBS News) With polls suggesting a neck-and-neck race for the presidency this fall, the Obama campaign is working hard to re-energize the youth vote, a key voting bloc that turned out in large numbers for the president in 2008. But a new Gallup survey suggests that voting intentions among young people are lagging compared to the last presidential election.
The Gallup poll, conducted from May 1-July 10 among 2,800 18- to 29-year-old registered voters, shows that only 58 percent of voters in that group say they are "definitely likely" to vote in November's presidential election. That's 20 points below the current national average, as well as 20 percent below the intentions expressed by 18- to 29-year-olds in October and November of 2008.
On average, 78 percent of registered voters say they are "definitely likely" to vote this fall. At 58 percent, young voters, who historically tend to favor Democratic candidates, were the least likely age sub-group to express that intention. Meanwhile older voters, who are more likely to skew Republican, were the most likely groups to express positive intentions to go to the polls: Eighty-five percent of voters between ages 50-64 and 65+ said they were definitely likely to vote.
Turnout intentions overall are lower than in the fall of 2008, when 85 percent of voters said they were definitely likely to vote.
According to Gallup, however, young people's voting intentions are likely to increase between now and November. Between June and October/November of 2008, the intent of people aged 18-29 to vote went up 9 points. In 2004, in the same period, it went up 20 points.
Minority voters, who helped propel Mr. Obama to victory in 2008, also appear less set on voting this time around. 76 percent of black registered voters say they're definitely likely to vote, down from 87 percent in October/November 2008, and 64 percent of Hispanic voters, who favor Mr. Obama by more than 2-1, say the same.
Both groups could experience upticks in voting intentions between June and November, as with young people, but Gallup data from past years shows no clear trend on that front.