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49% young voters grade Obama poorly

President Barack Obama arrives to speak at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Thursday, June 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Nearly half of the nation’s new voters, age 18-24, think that President Obama has done a “fair” or “poor” job as president, resulting in a 13 point drop in support, but he still maintains a wide lead over Mitt Romney, according to a new poll done by a conservative pro-life group.

The poll conducted for Students for Life of America (http://studentsforlife.org/) and provided to Secrets put Obama’s lead over Romney at 53 percent to 25 percent. That’s a big drop from the 66 percent of the 18-24 vote he got in 2008, but it’s more than enough to give the president something to crow about.

What’s more, the poll done by the Polling Company Inc./WomanTrend, found that younger and first-time voters remain engaged and should flood the polls again. In 2008, their turnout was the highest in 16 years, helping Obama beat Sen. John McCain, and that might be repeated.

But the poll found that the voters are down on Obama’s performance and aren’t wowed by his liberal positions on issues like abortion and the health insurance mandate on religious groups that would require, for example, Catholic institutions to offer insurance that includes abortion coverage.

Overall, 49 percent grade Obama as fair to poor; by nearly two-to-one, they won’t back a candidate like Obama who wants to force institutions pay for abortion coverage against their religious beliefs; are “pro-contraception.”

Pollster Kellyanne Conway said Obama’s advantage over Romney is belied by the split over his performance. She added that “sleeper issues” like abortion, if messaged right, could push younger voters to Romney. “If I were Chicago (home to Obama’s campaign) I would not be enthused,” she said, noting the 13 point drop in support for the president.

Below are the key details from the poll of 805 younger voters conducted May 25-June 1:

The HHS Mandate carries negative political currency for two-fifths of young voters: The plurality of young Americans, including every major demographic and geographic group, said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports forcing institutions to pay for procedures that violate their conscience or religious beliefs (42 % vs. 24%).

Young adults are going to vote in 2012: 18-24 year olds belie their disengaged reputation as an overwhelming majority (77%) predicted their participation in the fall elections.  While survey respondents can be notoriously culpable of over-estimating their participation in “socially desirable” activities such as voting, the high levels of engagement suggest that young voters may more closely resemble 2008 (49% turnout among this subgroup) than the midterms elections of 2010 (24% turnout).

Youth are “pro-contraception” not "pro-abortion": While youth were much less likely to self-identify as pro-life than the public as a whole, there was also scant evidence of a desire for total and complete abortion on-demand, a characterization that seems to escape much of the major media narrative about this generation.

Obama still leads among young adults, but they think he has done a bad job: Obama’s popularity among youth voters has dimmed in the four years following his last election, but he still leads Romney 53%-25% lead on the ballot test. Few voters are paying close attention at this early stage of the race, suggesting the ballot test remains fluid. Nor should Obama’s head-to-head advantage obscure his  legitimate vulnerability on job performance: nearly one-half (49%) graded his tenure as “fair” or “poor”.