Generation Apathy? Millennial Vote Up in the Air

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WASHINGTON -- Millennial voters: They represent the "future" that both candidates reference on the campaign trail.

Four years ago, these voters helped put President Barack Obama in the White House, but today they're feeling less enthusiastic.

They're disillusioned with government, diverse, yet divided -- often along racial lines.

"It's the millennial generation that came out in great numbers in 2008. It's the millennial generation that created the Occupy movement," college student Hira Baig said.

A new survey found America's youngest voters are feeling apathetic most likely because they're having a hard time financially. More than 50 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, and more than a quarter are living with their parents.

"The big question mark is will they vote?" Daniel Cox, director of research at the Public Religion Research Institute, asked.

Half of registered Millennials say they definitely will, according to the survey conducted by Georgetown University and Public Religion Research Institute.

And while President Obama enjoys a comfortable 16-point lead over Romney among Millennials, he's lost his luster.

"Obama has about 55 percent support of younger millennial voters. In 2008, that number was about two-thirds," Cox told CBN News.

Still, on character and leadership traits the president held an advantage in every category but one: 54 percent of Millennials say Romney has "strong religious beliefs." Just 32 percent say the same of Obama.

But Romney's religion may hurt him with young voters.

Just 44 percent say they'd be comfortable with a Mormon president. More than 60 percent say they'd be comfortable with an evangelical Christian in the White House.

The survey also found Millennials are strongly influenced by their parents when it comes to politics. Millennials whose parents took them to the polls as children are significantly more likely to be registered to vote.

And Millennials who have two parents supporting the same candidate closely follow their parents' choice.

The survey also found that a majority of young voters are discouraged with the government and politics. Still, both camps are fighting for their votes.

"College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms staring up at faded Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life," vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a group of supporters recently.

So how should the candidates reach out to millennial voters? Cox said social media. Eighty-six percent of Millennials have Facebook pages, and both campaigns know that this year, every vote counts.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at