A poll released by Harvard’s Institute of Politics last week showed college students narrowly favor Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry ’66 over President George W. Bush ’68.

The poll, which surveyed 1,205 undergraduate students from across the country, found that 48 percent of the students favored Kerry and 38 percent preferred Bush. But the poll also noted that support for Kerry was “soft,” with many students still making up their minds about the November election.

“College students now share the general public’s more mixed view of the president, and Senator Kerry is benefiting from that shift,” Institute of Politics Director Dan Glickman said in a press release. “Still, these are highly independent voters who are open to persuasion and it would be in the interests of both parties to court them aggressively.”

The poll found that concerns about Iraq and the job market were driving students to Kerry, while it also found that 57 percent of undergraduates support legalizing gay marriage.

Zach Jones ’05, who leads a group of Yale students supporting Kerry, said he had little doubt that undergraduates across America would vote in large numbers for the senator.

“I think it’s a no-brainer. College students are Democrats. Democratic issues are issues for younger people,” Jones said. “What’s surprising to me is not the results of the Harvard poll, but that there was any doubt about where college students would fall.”

Robert Chung ’06, who leads a Yale coalition of Bush supporters, said he expected students at the University to favor Kerry because of their liberal reputation. But he said Bush was an attractive candidate for college students across the country.

“This year, I could sense that we have a bigger following,” Chung said. “Comparatively, I think people who support Bush from Yale have increased a bit.”

— Jacob Leibenluft