Stateline.org's Louis Jacobson poses the question.
According to exit poll figures from CNN, Barack Obama won the 18- to 29-year-old vote in 38 of the 47 states from which data is available. He won the youth vote in 13 states that he lost overall, a fact that may put some of those states in play in 2012 assuming that Obama has a reasonably successful presidency. (This year Obama lost Missouri by four-tenths of a percentage point, but he won 59 percent of the youth vote there; he lost Montana by 3 points but won 61 percent of the youth vote.) In 16 states and the District of Columba -- which account for 214 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House -- Obama won the youth vote by more than 2 to 1.
On the surface, it seems like good news for the Democrats that Obama did so well among the voters most likely to still be alive in 2012. But that's assuming a steady voter turnout among younger people; it's also assuming that younger voters weren't simply reacting to George W. Bush's unpopularity and terrible economic news, and that they actually identify with the Democratic Party.
Jacobson finds some experts who emphasize those caveats, and they may be right. But I don't think this quote is especially encouraging for the GOP:
“Republicans should be concerned that they are not communicating their message effectively,” said Johanna Owens, who chairs the Lowcountry Young Republicans in South Carolina, speaking for herself rather than the party. “If the Republican Party would unite behind a conservative message and do a better job of communicating that message, I think you would see a different result.”
Republican leaders in Massachusetts have been stressing the importance of building a grass-roots infrastructure and better "communicating" conservative views for years, and the party is weaker than ever. Obama may have proven that those kinds of things come from having strong candidates, rather than the other way around.