Fall 2008 Survey


October, 22 2008

The online survey of 2,406 18-24 year-old U.S. citizens conducted by Harris Interactive® for the IOP between September 12 and October 6, 2008 finds –

•    U.S. Senator Barack Obama is favored among 18-24 year-old likely voters by nearly a 2-1 margin over U.S. Senator John McCain in the race for President.  Just weeks before Election Day, Senator Obama holds a twenty-six point lead (56%-30%; 15% undecided) over Senator McCain in the 2008 presidential race, a lead that has remained virtually unchanged since July (55%-32%) and March (53%-32%) 2008 IOP polling.  Obama’s lead grows slightly among young people saying they will “definitely” be voting (59%-31%).  As IOP polling also showed in July, young people continue to say they “trust” Obama more than McCain on eight out of ten major domestic and foreign policy issues facing the country. 

•    Youth are ready to answer a new call for public service, including working in government.  Almost six in ten (59%) 18-24 year-olds say that they are personally interested in engaging in some form of public service to help the country.  Nearly one-half (47%) of this group said engagement could include working for the federal, state or local government; almost a third (32%) said they would think about getting involved in a political campaign; and nearly two in ten (17%) said they would consider running for office.  Importantly, this is one issue where strong support is seen regardless of party (Democrats 68%, Republicans 63%, Independents 57%), presidential candidate supported (67% Obama supporters, 63% McCain supporters), or gender (63% women, 55% men) of young people today. 

•    Economy is ten times more important to young people today than one year ago.  More than half of young people (53%) say economic issues are their top concern.  IOP polling showed 30% of young people expressing the same opinion in March and only 5% in the fall of 2007.  During the same time period, the percentage of young people who said Iraq and the War in general was their top concern fell from 37% (fall 2007) to 20% (March 2008) to 9% today.  No other issue in this year's poll garnered more than 9%. 

•    Sen. Biden Vice-Presidential pick shows little effect, while Gov. Palin pick has hurt among Independents and women.  When 18-24 year-old likely voters were asked whether each candidate’s vice-presidential selection made them more or less likely to support that ticket in November, six in ten (60%) said that Senator Obama’s pick of U.S. Senator Joe Biden made no difference with just 21% saying the pick made them more likely and 19% saying less likely to support the ticket (Net effect: 2% points positive).  However, while only 35% of young people said Senator McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin made no difference, 40% of young voters said the pick made them “less likely” to support the ticket with 25% saying “more likely.” (Net effect: 15% points negative).  Among young people self-identifying as Independents, the Biden VP pick had a net 8% point negative effect, while the Palin VP pick had a net 22% point negative effect.

•    More than half of young people currently supporting a presidential candidate are interested in volunteering for their candidate’s campaign.  Among 18-24 year-olds currently supporting Senator Obama, nearly six in ten (57%) say they would be interested in volunteering for the presidential campaign if asked (17% very interested; 40% somewhat interested).  Slightly less than half (47%) of Senator McCain supporters said they would volunteer on their candidate’s campaign if asked to do so (16% very interested, 31% somewhat interested). 

•    Clinton Presidency is preferred model for this generation.  When young people were asked in an open-ended question which previous or current president they would prefer our next president to be most like, Bill Clinton was the top choice (26%) with Ronald Reagan second (11%).  President Clinton received more votes by likely voters of all parties (32% Democrats, 18% Republicans, and 24% Independents) than any other choice.  Among young people supporting Senator McCain, more said they would like the next president to be like President Clinton (21%) than President Reagan (14%). 

•    More young people see the effectiveness of political engagement than one year ago.  Nearly seven in ten 18-24 year-olds today (69%) say they see political engagement as an effective way of solving our nation’s problems, up six percentage points from fall 2007 (63%) and fall 2006 (60%) IOP polling.  Fewer young people today agree that politics is not relevant to their lives (28%) than did one year ago (32%) and fewer believe that elected officials don’t share their priorities (69%) than did one year ago (71%) or two years ago (75%).  In addition, over six in ten young people (68%) say running for office is an honorable thing to do, up from one year ago (67%) and two years ago (66%). 

•    College students who plan on voting are more likely to vote early or by absentee ballot.  Among college students who said they will “definitely vote,” 45% said that they plan to vote at their local polling place.  However, a bigger percentage (49%) said they won’t be voting in person at a polling place – 41% of students reported they will be voting by absentee ballot and another 8% reported they plan on “early voting.”

Fall 2008 Survey -  Release

Fall 2008 Survey - Top Line Data

Fall 2008 Survey- Executive Summary