If Kids Could Vote, Half Would Support Obama

Three in Five Youth Believe This Presidential Election is More Important Than Previous Ones

ROCHESTER, NY – October 8, 2008 – American youth have a clear favorite for the next president: Barack Obama. While the presidential candidates are running a close race among adult Americans, the country's youth would vote decisively. Half (50%) of American youth ages 8-17 would vote for Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, while three in ten (29%) would support John McCain, the Republican candidate. Nearly one in five (18%) say they are not sure which candidate they would support.

These are some of the results from a Harris Interactive Youth Center of Excellence YouthQuery survey conducted online in the United States among 1,064 youth ages 8-17 between September 17 – 22, 2008.

By a margin of over 20 points, young Americans say Obama holds greater promise for bringing positive change to the country. Over half (56%) of youth say Obama would bring a "great deal" or "some" positive change if elected versus just one-third of youth (35%) who say the same about McCain. Obama's message of change appears to resonate much stronger than McCain's: three times as many 8-17 year olds say an Obama presidency would bring a "great deal of positive change" as a McCain presidency (Obama: 35% vs. McCain: 12%).

The importance of the presidential election is not lost on youth as just over three in five of them (63%) say that this presidential election is more important than elections in the recent past. Only two percent say it is less important than other recent presidential elections. Teens (13-17 year olds) are more likely to recognize the unique character of this election than younger youth. Nearly three-quarters of teens (72%) state that the election is more important versus half of tweens (8-12 year olds: 52%). Overall, one in five of all youth (19%) say it is about as important, while another 17% percent say they don't know.

"Youth have likely been exposed to a sundry of evidence that this election is one of change and high stakes. There’s the first African-American presidential candidate and media frenzy surrounding the woman on the vice presidential ticket. The continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the looming shadows of terrorist threats. Take the housing and financial crisis and recent "bail out". There’s enough subject matter here to understand why American youth believe in the historic nature of this presidential election", stated Peter Shafer, Vice President for the Youth Center of Excellence. "Interestingly, while we traditionally see youth echoing the sentiments of their parents when it comes to elections, this is not the case this election year. Instead they are closer in sentiment to their older co-horts, the Millenials (those aged 18-31) who, a recent Harris Poll found, support Obama by 23 points (58% to 35%)."

TABLE 1

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

"If the presidential election were held today, for whom would you most likely vote?"

Base: All Youth, 8-17

 

Total

%

Barack Obama, Democratic Party

50

John McCain, Republican Party

29

Ralph Nader, Independent

2

Bob Barr, Libertarian Party

0

Other

2

Not sure

18

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 2

POSITIVE CHANGE IF ELECTED

"How much positive change do you feel each of the following candidates for president would bring to the country if he was elected?"

Base: All Youth, 8-17

 

Barack Obama

John McCain

%

%

A GREAT DEAL/SOME POSITIVE CHANGE (NET)

56

35

A great deal of positive change

35

12

Some positive change

21

23

A LITTLE/NO POSITIVE CHANGE (NET)

28

45

A little positive change

8

19

No positive change at all

20

27

Not sure

16

20

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

TABLE 3

IMPORTANCE OF ELECTION

"Compared to presidential elections in the recent past, do you think this one will be?"

Base: All Youth, 8-17

 

Total

8-12 year olds

13-17 year olds

%

%

%

More important

63

52

72

About as important

19

22

16

Less important

2

2

1

Not sure

17

24

11

Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on September 17-22, 2008 among 1,064 U.S. 8-17 year olds (503 8-12 year olds; 561 13-17 year olds).Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About the Harris Interactive Youth Center of Excellence

The Youth Center of Excellence conducts research among children, teens, parents, educators, administrators and policy makers that assists in understanding the lives of children, teens and college students. The team specializes in research related to marketing geared toward the young consumer, to public policy related to youth and education, to family and parenting issues, and satisfaction studies and research that measures the standards of K-12 and higher education in districts across the nation. The practice conducts custom and syndicated studies both for non-profit and for-profit organizations.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:

Carly Lejnieks
Harris Interactive
585-214-7415
clejnieks@harrisinteractive.com

Corporate Communications Contact:

Tracey McNerney
Harris Interactive
585-214-7756
press@harrisinteractive.net

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