American's youngest voters are overwhelmingly backing Hillary Clinton for president, as a majority also express fears about the country's future, a nationwide survey released Wednesday by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows.
The Democratic nominee is backed by 49 percent of likely voters ages 18 to 29, followed by Republican nominee Donald Trump at 21 percent, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson at 14 percent and Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 5 percent. In a hypothetical two-way contest between Clinton and Trump, the Democrat received 59 percent support and the Republican was backed by 25 percent.
Clinton is also tracking ahead of President Barack Obama’s 2012 polling numbers among women and whites in the age group, the survey found.
"After eight years of a complicated relationship with millennials, in the closing days of the campaign, Hillary Clinton is closing strong," said John Della Volpe, the institute's polling director. "Her favorability with 18- to 29-year-old likely voters is up significantly since the summer and the combination of her strong debate performances, and failure for both Trump and the third party candidates to expand their bases gives her a lead of 28 points."
Asked about the nation's future, 51 percent of those ages 18 to 29 said they feel "fearful," while just 20 percent picked "hopeful." In responding to the question, which hadn't been asked in previous polls, every demographic group felt more fearful than hopeful, the institute said, with white women exhibiting the most anxiety, at 60 percent fearful.
Concerns about the future of the nation are focused on the attainability of the “American Dream," the survey found. Only about one-in-three white females in the age group think they'll be better off financially than their parents, while just 36 percent of white males say that.
In 2012, those 18 to 29 years old accounted for 19 percent of the electorate nationally, according to exit polls. Harvard's survey of 2,150 U.S. citizens was conducted online through random sampling Oct. 7-17 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Johnson could lose some of his support among young people, the survey shows, as the election becomes closer. Among his likely voters, 37 percent say they're likely to change their minds before Election Day. Just 6 percent of Clinton's supporters and 5 percent of Trump's backers say that.
Comparing these results to Obama’s position in the same poll four years earlier, Clinton is performing better among female voters (+14 points), white voters (+12 points), and non-college voters (+10 points). When compared to Republican Mitt Romney's position in the same 2012 poll, Trump is under-performing by 17 percentage points among young Republicans.
The proportion of those in the age group who say they'll definitely vote -- 49 percent -- is one percentage point higher than in the same survey four years earlier, the institute said.
Fifty-one percent of young women said they'll definitely vote, up from 45 percent in 2012. Young Hispanics are 8 percentage points more likely to say they're going to vote, while independents are 7 percentage points more likely to say so. Republicans in the age group are 9 percentage points less likely to say they'll definitely vote than in 2012.