Unlike other groups, young voters gave Obama an edge on handling the economy. Beyond that, their attitudes on social issues align much more closely with those of Obama and Democrats. For instance, a poll commissioned by the Harvard Institute of Politics showed that young voters preferred Obama over Romney on immigration reform (50 percent to 30 percent), health care policy (54 percent to 35 percent), and issues important to women (58 percent to 27 percent). A 2011 Pew Research Center poll last year found that 59 percent of Americans aged 18 to 30 support legalizing gay marriage…

“I thought the turnout would be low because I didn’t think the campaigns and the political system were treating young people particularly well. There wasn’t a particularly coherent debate going on about policy, and honestly, there was a lot of mudslinging,” said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. “So then you have to go to the explanation that this is coming from them … that they were not enthusiastic or happy about the campaign, but they were persistent.”…

As Matt Segal, president of the youth-advocacy group Our Time, pointed out, it’s no coincidence that when youth turnout was high, ballot initiatives to validate same-sex marriage passed in four states.