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Poll: Young not in step with 30-plus crowd


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(CNN) -- A majority of Americans in two different age groups have a favorable opinion of President Bush, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, but the survey found sharp differences on a number of issues between younger respondents and those 30 and older.

On topics such as the war in Iraq, ethnic diversity and gay marriage, people between the ages of 18 and 29 don't see eye to eye with those 30 and older, according to the new poll.

Overall, younger Americans also don't follow politics as closely as older ones, the survey found.

While 69 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 said they follow politics, 81 percent 30 and older said they do.

CNN's "Crossfire" co-host Paul Begala said: "If ignorance is bliss, then young voters are the happiest folks in America.

"One of the things that comes out of the CNN poll here is that they are three times less likely than their older peers to be plugged into issues and ideas," he said. "They are our future, and they are hopelessly ill-informed."

It's unclear what difference, if any, younger Americans will have in the 2004 presidential election, but it is clear they support the president, if only slightly more than older Americans.

When asked if they approved of the way Bush was handling his job as president, 62 said yes, while the rating dips to 53 percent for the older group.

Sixty-six percent of the younger Americans surveyed said they had a favorable opinion of Bush -- compared with 62 percent of older Americans.

However, the two groups' responses were almost identical when asked if they would vote for Bush in the upcoming election.

Among younger registered voters, 49 percent said they were more likely to vote for Bush, while 39 percent said they were more likely to vote for an unnamed Democratic candidate. Forty-seven percent of the older voters said they were more likely to vote for Bush, and 43 percent said they were more likely to vote for a Democrat.

Americans 18 to 29 also said they like former President Clinton more than their older counterparts. Sixty-seven percent of young Americans gave Clinton a thumbs up, while 54 percent of older Americans did the same.

If the economy becomes key in the election, Bush could be better positioned to win support from the youngest of his constituency, the survey suggested. Nearly 60 percent of younger Americans polled said they believe the economy is improving compared with 48 percent of the elder group.

"Crossfire" co-host Tucker Carlson said he sees a hopeful theme in the poll numbers.

"People under 30 are just more optimistic about America's future," Carlson said. "They feel more secure in the job market. With the economy, they feel things are getting better. They think Iraq is going better than people over 30 do."

Among registered Democrats, young and old alike are equally divided on a top Democratic candidate, the poll found.

But Gen. Wesley Clark and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean come out on top in the survey. The young lean toward Clark, with 17 percent making him their top choice, while the slightly older choose Dean -- 16 percent favor him.

However, the Rev. Al Sharpton receives much stronger support among the young -- 12 percent to older Democrats' 5 percent -- while U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt picks up strong support among the older respondents. Fourteen percent of older Democrats choose the Missouri congressman, while 6 percent of younger respondents do.

The two groups are also split on issues regarding the war in Iraq.

Both groups oppose returning to a military draft, but 88 percent of younger Americans don't want a draft compared with slightly less than 80 percent of older ones who are against such a move.

Carlson said of the younger set: "If there's one thing that people under 30 agree on it's -- draft bad!"

The greatest differences among the two groups appear to be on social issues, especially gay marriage and ethnic diversity.

While a majority of younger Americans -- 53 percent -- support same-sex marriages that are recognized with equal rights under the law, 32 percent of the older group backed such a concept.

The groups also were asked whether racial and ethnic minorities should be encouraged to maintain their own culture or blend into the larger American society.

Fifty-four percent of younger Americans said they believe minorities should keep their own culture, while 37 percent of older Americans said they back the idea.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 421 Americans between 18 and 29 and 884 Americans 30 and older on October 24-27. The poll's sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points, except on questions of registered voters (plus or minus 5.5 percentage points) and registered Democrats (plus or minus 8 percentage points).


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