WASHINGTON -- Youth voters are engaging with this year's presidential campaign in increasing numbers as Election Day nears, according to a new survey released by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
After surveying the same group of young voters between 18- and 29-years-old in mid-summer and then again in mid-October, Tufts University's CIRCLE reports that the number of individuals who say they are "extremely likely" to vote this year has leaped by close to 10 percentage points to nearly 55 percent. A full two-thirds of the youth surveyed said that they were either extremely or very likely to cast a ballot in the presidential contest, a bump of 7 percent.
Increased youth engagement is good news for President Barack Obama, who mobilized substantial numbers of young voters in 2008. But while the survey, which queried 1,695 and 1,109 young voters in June/July and October, respectively, reflects a surge in youth interest, the youth turnout could still fall below its 2008 high-water mark.
A September report from the Pew Research Center found that youth engagement has trailed behind its 2008 levels. Only half of voters under age 30 were absolutely certain that they were even registered to vote in this election, according to polls conducted throughout 2012. In 2008, that number hovered at around 60 percent.
The study concludes that flagging enthusiasm levels have hit the 18- to 29-year-old demographic particularly hard.
"This slippage is particularly steep among voters under 30; just 61 percent are highly engaged in the 2012 campaign, down from 75 percent at this point four years ago," the report concluded. "By contrast, fully 86 percent of voters 65 and older are highly engaged, which is unchanged from four years ago."
But the CIRCLE survey does indicate that the engaged youth are still leaning predominantly towards Obama. If the election had been held at the time of the survey in mid-October, the president would have drawn votes from 52 percent of those between 18 and 29 who consider themselves extremely likely to vote. Gov. Mitt Romney would have taken 35 percent.
Since July, Romney has seen his support plummet, particularly among black and Latino youth -- by 5 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Obama, on the other hand, has had significant traction with both demographics.
The Obama campaign seems to be making more of an effort to target young voters, according to CIRCLE data. Out of those individuals contacted by a campaign, close to 60 percent received calls from Obama's field staff or volunteers. Only 32 percent reported having heard from Romney's campaign.
Mobilizing young voters is likely to be key in swing states like North Carolina, which tipped in Obama's favor in 2008, when Obama's campaign reached out to 46 percent of young voters statewide, as compared to Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 29 percent.
Jane Hall, a 21-year-old senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who volunteered for Obama in Charlotte in 2008, is now working to get the vote out among her fellow students in 2012. When she makes calls from the local OFA office, she says that the campaign staff are clearly focused on the youth demographic.
On Thursday night, Hall and several other UNC students held a phone bank specifically targeting their classmates in order to ask them whether or not they had cast a ballot yet and to give them important voting information ahead of Election Day.
"That was a fun twist," Hall told HuffPost. "Usually when we do 'get out the vote' stuff, it's a lot more generalized. You're calling a lot more family homes and older people ... It's cool to talk to people your own age -- to be able to say, 'Hi, I am actually another student at UNC, and I think it's really important for you to go vote.'"
According to the CIRCLE study, young voters are more than 40 percent more likely to turn up at the polls if they are asked to vote by a friend. Hall agrees that holding friends and acquaintances accountable does more to mobilize people, particularly given how saturated with campaign advertising the North Carolina airwaves are.
"[With] all these television ads, Pandora ads, things like that -- we are all just so immune to them now, and we're all just so good at ignoring them," Hall said. "I think it's more of a personal thing at this point: 'You have four days. There's four days and it's going to decide the next four years.'"
But she acknowledges that she has seen less enthusiasm among people her own age this year as opposed to 2008, but she doesn't think it reflects on Obama's first term.
"Reelecting the first black president is not as exciting as electing the first black president," Hall said. "That is the bottom line."
(graphic courtesy of CIRCLE)
Related on HuffPost:
2012 -- Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama waves to supporters following his victory speech on election night in Chicago, Illinois on November 6, 2012. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
2008 -- Barack Obama
Nov. 4, 2008: U.S. president-elect Barack Obama waves at his supporters during his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
2004 -- George W. Bush
In this Nov. 3, 2004 file photo, President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush salute and wave during an election victory rally at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
2000 -- George W. Bush
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor George W. Bush casts his vote in Austin, Texas on November 7, 2000. (PAUL RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
1996 -- Bill Clinton
President Bill Clinton, wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea wave to supporters in front of the Old State House during an election night celebration in Little Rock, Ark. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1996. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
1992 -- Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton and Al Gore celebrate in Little Rock, Arkansas after winning in a landslide election on November 3, 1992. (AP Photo)
1988 -- George H. W. Bush
President-elect George Bush and his family celebrate his victory on November 8,1988 at the Brown Convention Center in Houston. (WALT FRERCK/AFP/Getty Images) <em><strong>CORRECTION:</strong> An earlier version of this slide was titled "George W. Bush." It has been fixed.</em>
1984 -- Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan gives a thumbs-up to supporters at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles as he celebrates his re-election, Nov. 6, 1984, with first lady Nancy Reagan at his side. (AP Photo/File)
1980 -- Ronald Reagan
President-elect Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy wave to well-wishers on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1980 at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles after his election victory. (AP Photo)
1976 -- Jimmy Carter
Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter embraces his wife Rosalynn after receiving the final news of his victory in the national general election on November 2, 1976. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1972 -- Richard Nixon
U.S. President Richard M. Nixon meets at Camp David, Maryland, on November 13, 1972 to discuss the Vietnam situation with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger (L) and Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr.(R), Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. (Photo by AFP PHOTO/NATIONAL ARCHIVE/Getty Images)
1968 -- Richard Nixon
President-elect Richard M. Nixon and his wife, Pat, were a picture of joy at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, Nov. 6, 1968, as he thanked campaign workers. At left are David Eisenhower, Julie Nixon's fiance, Julie and her sister Tricia at center. (AP Photo)
1964 -- Lyndon Johnson
President Lyndon Johnson proves he's a pretty good cowhand as he puts his horse, Lady B, through the paces of rounding up a Hereford yearling on his LBJ Ranch near Stonewall, Texas, on November 4, 1964. (AP Photo/Bill Hudson)
1960 -- John F. Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy peeps over the shoulder of her father, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he gave her a piggy-back ride November 9, 1960 at the Kennedy residence in Hyannis Port, Mass. It was the first chance president-elect Kennedy had to relax with his daughter in weeks. (AP Photo)
1956 -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon salute cheering workers and Republicans at GOP election headquarters in Washington, November 7, 1956, after Adlai Stevenson conceded. (AP Photo)
1952 -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
President-elect Dwight Eisenhower and first lady-elect Mamie Eisenhower wave to the cheering, singing crowd in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Commodore in New York City on Nov. 5, 1952 after Gov. Adlai Stevenson conceded defeat. (AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman)
1948 -- Harry S. Truman
U.S. President Harry S. Truman holds up an Election Day edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, which, based on early results, mistakenly announced "Dewey Defeats Truman" on November 4, 1948. The president told well-wishers at St. Louis' Union Station, "That is one for the books!" (AP Photo/Byron Rollins)
1944 -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Franklin Roosevelt greets a young admirer as he sits outside his home in Hyde Park, N.Y., on election night, November 7, 1944. Behind him stands his daughter, Mrs. Anna Roosevelt Boettinger and the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. (AP Photo)
1940 -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) speaking to a crowd of 25,000 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 8, 1940, before his sweeping re-election for a third term. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
1936 -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
The Republican Governor of Kansas and presidential candidate, Alfred Landon (1887 - 1987) greeting the American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) (seated) prior to the presidential elections. Future United States President Harry S. Truman can been seen in the background. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
1932 -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York at his Hyde Park, N.Y. home November 6, 1932, seen at the conclusion of the arduous months of campaigning following his presidential nomination in Chicago. (AP Photo)
1928 -- Herbert Hoover
President-elect Herbert Hoover is seated at a table with wife, Lou, and joined by other family members on Nov. 9, 1928. Standing from left: Allan Hoover; son; Margaret Hoover, with husband, Herbert Hoover, Jr.,at right. Peggy Ann Hoover, daughter of Herbert Hoover Jr., sits with her grandmother. (AP Photo)
1924 -- Calvin Coolidge
U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidge are shown with their dog at the White House portico in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 5, 1924. (AP Photo)
1920 -- Warren Harding
Senator Warren Harding, with wife Florence and his father George, shown on Aug. 27, 1920. (AP Photo)
1916 -- Woodrow Wilson
Surrounded by crowds, President Woodrow Wilson throws out the first ball at a baseball game in Washington in this 1916 photo. (AP Photo)
1912 -- Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924), the future American president, casts his vote while Governor of New Jersey, on Nov. 14, 1912. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)