Survey Says Youth Voters Favor Obama, Giuliani

This story was written by Elizabeth A. Joyce, Harvard Crimson
The Institute of Politics (IOP) released the results of its 13th Biannual Youth Survey on Politics and Public Service Wednesday, revealing that presidential hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani are the preferred candidates among the 18-24 age group.

The online survey, which sought the opinions of 2,526 U.S. citizens, also reported that 36 percent of likely Republican voters and 18 percent of likely Democratic voters said they were "dissatisfied" with the choice of candidates for their party's nomination.

Thirty-seven percent of all polled said that the poor showing on both sides of the aisle recommends the rise of a third major party. The same percentage of respondents registered "Iraq and the War" as their number one issue, while health care came in a distant second at 9 percent.

"Iraq matters and everything else is distant, that's what the poll is saying," said Matthew Baum, a visiting associate professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government (KSG).

The poll, started in 2000 by Harvard students, is led by student chairs Marina Fisher '09 and Matthew T. Valji '08 with the help of IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe. The poll claims a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent and is unique among its peers in that it is administered entirely online.

"Only 45 percent of young people total and just 33 percent of college students have a landline telephone," Fisher said. "A lot more young people have the Internet."

According to the survey, likely Democratic voters with a landline favored Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (D-NY) by a five-point margin, while Obama led by 13 percentage points among those without land lines. This margin casts doubt on numbers released by other national polls of the same demographic, conducted over the telephone, which show Clinton leading the pack.

The poll, however, does indicate reluctance among young voters to identify with either major party -- 40 percent identified themselves as independent.

"The poll suggests that young people are more alienated by the two parties than adults," said Professor Robert J. Blendon, who directs the Harvard Opinion Research Program.

Since the prior administration of the survey in March, the number of undecided likely Republican voters has risen.

"Usually, as you get closer to the decision, the number of undecideds shrinks. It shows how competitive the race is and how volatile people's views are," said Blendon, who is a professor at KSG and the School of Public Health.
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