Youth Vote: Disparity Seen Between Races on Obama, Romney Preference

A new poll released Thursday says President Obama holds a commanding lead over his rival, Mitt Romney, with Millennials between the ages of 18 and 25, particularly young black voters. Romney, meanwhile, has the support of young white Christians.

The Public Religion Research Institute Poll examined issues such as the percentage of Millennials registered to vote while comparing racial and ethnic divisions between the two major candidates. And there are some large gaps.

"One of the most striking findings of the survey is the impact of parental example on younger Millennial voter engagement and voting preferences," said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. "Younger Millennials whose parents brought them to the voting booth as children are significantly more likely to be registered to vote, and younger Millennials who have two parents supporting the same presidential candidate are closely following the vote choices of their parents."

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Black Millennial voters overwhelmingly support Obama over Romney by a margin of 97 percent to 2 percent, while Obama's lead among younger Hispanic Millennial voters is also substantial at 67 percent vs. 23 percent. By contrast, Romney has an 11-point advantage over Obama among white Millennial voters, 52 to 41 percent.

Even more significant is that Romney has a commanding lead among younger white Christians. Eight-in-ten (80 percent) white evangelical Protestant Millennial voters support Romney, while just 15 percent support Obama.

"There are striking differences along racial lines about the role of faith in the lives of presidential candidates," said Dr. Thomas Banchoff, director of Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. "Strong majorities of black and Hispanic younger Millennials say it is important for presidential candidates to have strong religious beliefs, while a majority of white younger Millennials disagree."

Interestingly, 17 percent of those who support President Obama say they do so because he shares their beliefs. However, 15 percent of Obama supporters are in the president's corner because they don't like Romney.

Supporters of Gov. Romney are more likely to support him because they don't care for Obama (35 percent) while only 20 percent support the former Massachusetts governor because they like his views.

Those polled seemed divided on the importance of religious beliefs for those running for president. Nearly half (49 percent) of younger Millennials say it is somewhat or very important for a candidate to have strong religious beliefs, while 48 percent say it is not too important or not at all important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs.

Forty-four percent of younger Millennials say they would be comfortable with a Mormon, 43 percent would be comfortable with an atheist, but only 30 percent say they would be comfortable with a Muslim president.

Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University's Berkley Center conducted the survey jointly for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs between Aug. 28 and Sept. 10. Results are based on interviews conducted online in both English and Spanish with 1,214 adults ages 18 to 25 who were recontacted from the original Millennial Values Survey. The margin of sampling error for the entire sample is plus or minus 4.3 points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

A summary of the survey can be seen here.

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