Young Voters: Fewer Are Registered, Most Are Not Following The Election, Pew Research Center Finds

AMES, IA -  AUGUST 28:  U.S. President Barrack Obama speaks during a campaign event at Iowa State University on August 28, 20
AMES, IA - AUGUST 28: U.S. President Barrack Obama speaks during a campaign event at Iowa State University on August 28, 2012 in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State was the first stop on a three campus college tour where Obama was addressing mainly students about education finance and healthcare. (Photo by David Greedy/Getty Images)

Young voters turned out in droves to help propel Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008. While Obama still holds a huge chunk of support from young people, fewer are registered and they're less engaged than older demographics, according to new polling from the Pew Research Center.

Only 50 percent of people ages 18-29 are registered to vote -- a full 11 percent lower than in 2008 and the lowest number in the past 16 years of Pew's polling. The number of young people registered to vote hasn't been this low since 1999. The Pew Research Center noted young adults are at their "lowest registration rate of the last five presidential elections."

The overall voter registration number currently sits at 72 percent. All other age demographics have at least 70 percent registered to vote, although each age group is down slightly from 2008 levels.

Young adults are still mostly backing Obama, with a relatively small shift overall, at 59-35 in the president's favor. However, Obama lost a full 9 percent of support from voters aged 25-29. That doesn't mean they necessarily switched to back Mitt Romney, since the former Massachusetts governor is only doing three points better than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did in 2008.

Obama has been courting the youth vote heavily this year with TV ads just about the paying for college, and at least 130 visits to college campuses since taking office.

Considering historic data though, young voters are still more supportive of President Obama than any other Democratic presidential candidate since 1980. Indeed, there may be a drop of support for Obama among young voters this time, but the president retains a strong advantage.

The gender gap for the presidential candidates among young people mimics the overall polling numbers, showing Obama with a 65-31 advantage with women over Romney.

The president's challenge will likely reside in getting young people to turn out. Voters aged 18-29 say they are less likely to vote and are not following the campaign as closely this year, compared to other age groups.

In 2008, 72 percent of 18-29 year-olds were "definitely" planning to vote. This year, the number is down to 63 percent. Fewer young people even bother to pay attention to the election this year; those ages 18-29 who are "following campaign news very closely" has dropped from 35 percent in Sept. 2008 to just a mere 18 percent.