Courting young voters in 2012 election

by Terrell Brown

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - President Obama is counting on a lift-off in the economy to get re-elected. A poll out this week shows while most Americans have a gloomy view of current conditions, nearly 6 in 10 believe things will improve in the coming year.

These are especially tough times for new college graduates. And as CBS News' Terrell Brown tells us, jobs are sparse and young votes are up for grabs.

As they head home for the summer, the class of 2012 faces an uncertain future. For many, it's one filled with job searches and student loan payments.

"The uncertainty is scary," said Kevin Ward, who graduates from Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire this weekend. "It's the abyss. I'm jumping in the deep end."

He said this uncertainty will affect how he votes in November's presidential election: "The economy will really be on the top of my list, but also social issues are really up there."

Ward is one of the millennials -- 18-29-year-olds -- whose votes in 2008 helped President Obama take the White House.

"There were 2 million more youth voters than there had been in 2004," said Neil Levesque of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. "I don't think that's going to happen again. Some of the shine has certainly diminished from the president."

Though a recent poll has President Obama with a sizable lead over Mitt Romney, Levesque thinks he could still be in trouble with the youth vote.

"Right now, he's up about 17 points with youth voters," said Levesque." But he's still only maxing out at a 43 percent rate within that demographic group."

Ward is not totally convinced. "It's different than it was before. I was younger, so I think I was easily influenced."

President Obama knows the youth vote is an important constituency. Mitt Romney's supporters are also pushing for the young vote.

"This time I'll be voting for Mitt Romney," said Justin Colella, who doesn't need a super PAC campaign to convince him to vote for Romney. "Mitt Romney possesses the qualities as well as the experience, both with business as well as politics."

And to emphasize how creating new jobs is the number one issue for young voters: Millennials say it's more important to them than health care or reducing the deficit.