Election 2012 should put forever to rest the old saw that young people are politically apathetic. Coming on the heels of a year that saw a significant resurgence of student activism, more young people turned out for the 2012 election than the historic numbers in 2008, despite new voter ID laws and challenges by lawmakers against college students' ability to vote, and widespread confusion about state voting laws.
Voters from ages 18 to 29 represented 19 percent of all those who voted, according to the early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research. That's an increase of one percentage point from 2008. Looking at all 50 states, Obama won the youth vote 60 percent compared to 37 percent for Romney, according to exit polls.
And these voters broke overwhelmingly for President Obama. In fact, several groups that study the youth vote say they are confident Romney's lack of appeal to young people lost him the election. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which studies youth voting habits, millennial voters were critical for Obama in the swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. (Students make up a significant part of the overall vote in Ohio and Florida, which have two of the country's largest student bodies at Ohio State University and the University of Central Florida.)
Watch this space in the coming days for far more detailed coverage of the youth vote.