A new opinion poll indicates that a majority of young Americans say they favor Democrats over Republicans and tend to lean to the left on a variety of social issues.

The poll, conducted by The New York Times, CBS News and MTV, says 54 percent of Americans aged 17 to 29 say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. They share with the general public a negative view of President Bush - his approval rating with this age group is 28 percent.

The survey shows that young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage.

When asked about the war in Iraq, young Americans were more optimistic about the outcome than the population as a whole. Fifty one percent say the United States is likely to succeed in Iraq, compared with 45 percent among all adults.

The survey found that many more young Americans are paying attention to this presidential race than the last one in 2004. They appear to be most familiar with Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both Democrats.

The poll was conducted from June 15 to June 23. It involved 659 adults ages 17 to 29. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.