The national poll by Harvard's Institute of Politics of more than 2,000 people aged 18 through 29 is intended to provide insight into the political views of the youngest US voters, an increasingly influential demographic known as the "millennial generation."
More than 50 percent of respondents in the survey, taken between Oct. 30 and Nov. 11, said they disapproved of how Obama handled key issues in his second term, including Syria, Iran, the economy, healthcare and the federal budget deficit.
But a plurality of respondents, 46 percent, said they would still vote for him for president if they could recast their 2012 ballots, compared with 35 percent who said they would vote for the then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Some 55 percent of the survey respondents who reported casting ballots in the 2012 presidential election said they had voted for Obama, compared with 33 percent for Romney.
The results follow a separate CNN/ORC poll released on Nov. 25 that showed a growing number of Americans doubted Obama's ability to manage the nation, amid ongoing problems plaguing the president's signature domestic policy achievement, the healthcare reform law widely known as Obamacare.
Obama's administration has also come under fire from critics at home and abroad who claim it is dealing poorly with the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons and Iran over its nuclear ambitions. They also say the administration has failed to rein in U.S. public spending or revive the economy.
Some 57 percent of respondents in the Harvard poll said they disapproved of the Obamacare law, with 40 percent expecting the quality of health care to worsen and about half expecting health care costs to rise.
The Harvard survey respondents spread out the blame for Washington's shortcomings beyond Obama and the Democratic party. In terms of job performance, 54 percent said they disapproved of the president, 59 percent disapproved of Democrats in Congress, and a whopping 75 percent disapproved of Republicans in Congress.
Conservative U.S. Republicans took a hard line in the fight over October's U.S. government shutdown, which was waged over the party's demands to stop the launch of Obamacare. But delays in pay to some public workers, closings of national parks and reductions in public services only deepened Americans' frustration.
Asked which proposals they would prefer to see enacted to cut the federal deficit, respondents tended to favor increasing taxes for the wealthy and cutting certain types of military spending - including on the nuclear arsenal and the size of the Navy fleet.
More than 70 percent also said they would prefer not to see any cuts to education spending on kindergarten through high school, the poll showed.
In a sign of ambivalence over the role of Edward Snowden, a contractor for the National Security Agency, in unveiling details of the U.S. spying program, 52 percent of survey respondents said they were not sure if he was a traitor or a patriot.
Some 22 percent labeled him a traitor and an equal 22 percent labeled him a patriot.
Snowden is living in Russia as a fugitive after President Vladimir Putin granted him asylum against Washington's wishes.