Young Americans are more likely than any other section of the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a new poll published by The New York Times Wednesday.
The New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll offered a snapshot of a group whose energy and idealism have always been as alluring to politicians as its scattered focus and shifting interests have been frustrating, the Times reported.
The survey found that substantially more Americans aged 17 to 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race, and that they appeared to be really familiar with only two of the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both Democrats.
They have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party. And although they are just as worried as the general population about the outlook for the country and think their generation is likely to be worse off than that of their parents, they retain a belief that their votes can make a difference, the poll found.
More than half of Americans aged 17 to 29 -- 54 percent -- say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. They share with the public at large a negative view of President George W. Bush, who has a 28 percent approval rating with this group, and of the Republican Party. They hold a markedly more positive view of Democrats than they do of Republicans.
Among this age group, Bush's job approval rating after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was more than 80 percent. Over the course of the next three years, it drifted downward leading into the presidential election of 2004, when 4 out of 10 young Americans said they approved how Bush was handling his job.
At a time when Democrats have made gains after years in which Republicans have dominated Washington, young Americans appear to lean slightly more to the left than the general population: 28 percent described themselves as liberal, compared with 20 percent of the nation at large. And 27 percent called themselves conservative, compared with 32 percent of the general public.
Forty-four percent said they believed that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married, compared with 28 percent of the public at large. They are more likely than their elders to support the legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The poll showed that 62 percent said they would support a universal, government-sponsored national health care insurance program; 47 percent of the general public holds that view. And 30 percent said that "Americans should always welcome new immigrants, " while 24 percent of the general public holds that view.
By a 52 to 36 majority, young Americans say that Democrats, rather than Republicans, come closer to sharing their moral values, while 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, and 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans.
The nationwide poll was conducted from June 15 to June 23, involving 659 adults aged 17 to 29, and its margin of sampling error was plus or minus four percentage points.