The youthful Reps want Ron Paul and if the GOP keep pushing Romney they will lose the youth to the Democrats or RP as an independent and lose another generation of voters. The GOP should give the nomination to Ron Paul and let the chips fall where they may and focus on Congress. This strategy will allow them to keep the youth and hopefully take control of Congress. The Gallup data below doesnt even begin to take into account the non-Republican youth vote that Ron Paul currently holds and will not vote for a GOP candidate otherwise.
Romney has a significant problem among younger Republican voters, who up through last week were almost as likely to support Ron Paul as Romney. Romney's support among 18- to 34-year-old Republicans was 30%, Paul's was 27%, and Santorum's, 15%. This is the only subgroup in which Paul was a major contender. Romney led among 35- to 54-year-olds by nine points, and by 22 points among Republicans 55 and older.
Neither Paul nor Romney is a young candidate; Romney is 65 and Paul is 76. But, despite his advanced age, Paul has captured, and apparently continues to capture, the hearts and minds of young Republicans across the country. Santorum is the youngest of the four GOP candidates, at 53, but his failure to do well among young voters underscores the finding that the actual age of a candidate does not appear to be the deciding factor when it comes to young Republicans' allegiance.
Paul continues to campaign for the GOP nomination, making it unlikely that Romney will get his endorsement anytime soon -- if ever. It's also possible that Paul will run as a third-party candidate. It's unclear how much of Paul's unusual appeal to young Republicans would transfer to Romney even if Paul did exit the race.
Young voters overall tend to identify more strongly with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, so it is highly likely that they will break for Obama in the general election. Romney's challenge is to capture some of the enthusiasm young Republican voters have for Paul in an attempt to blunt Obama's strength among this group. Romney's demonstrated lack of appeal to younger Republicans in the primary season suggests this may be difficult.