Report: Lack of caring, close-mindedness hurt GOP with young voters

Ariel Cohen | Contributor

Mitt Romney and the Republican Party lost the youth vote in 2012 because the majority of Americans under 30 have come to believe that the GOP doesn’t care about people and is close-minded, according to a report released by the College Republican National Committee.

Even though President Barack Obama won 5 million more votes than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among the under-30 population during the 2012 presidential election, the CRNC believes it can recapture the under-30 vote.

“Theoretically, the good news in all of this is that while the Republican Party’s negative brand is being driven heavily by a perceived lack of open-mindedness and caring, the other brand attributes that matter to young people — intelligence, a strong work-ethic, and competence — are not out of reach and are certainly up for grabs,” the report found.

The 95-page report used data from a pair of surveys of 800 registered voters between the ages of 19-29 nationwide in order to examine how the party lost the youth vote and create a plan on how to refocus “Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation.” The report also pulled anecdotal evidence from a trio of focus groups featuring young Obama voters.

“Young Voters have broken for the Republican Party in the past, and not just in the midterm elections,” the CRNC said on its website. “We believe that Republicans can win young voters, but that it will require a significantly different approach than has been use in recent elections.”

The report cited the Ronald Reagan’s 1984 winning of 59 percent of the youth vote as the target goal to replicate.

The report also pointedly addressed one of today’s hot-button issues for American youth: gay marriage. The Republican Party’s hard stance on this “open-minded” issue has turned many millennials away from the GOP, it found.

In one of the surveys cited, 25 percent said they would not vote for someone who opposed same-sex marriage.

“On the ‘open-minded’ issue, yes, we will face serious difficulty so long as the issue of gay marriage remains on the table,” the CRNC wrote. “In the short term, the party ought to promote the diversity of thought within its ranks and make clear that we welcome healthy debate on the policy topic at hand.”

Many young voters are also frustrated by the Republican Party’s perceived lack of altruism. One Obama voters who was interviewed in the study perceived that the Republican Party “will pat you on your back when you make it, but wont offer you a hand to help you get there.”

In order to appeal to today’s youth, the Republican Party must reshape its image while holding to conservative values, CRNC posited.

“‘Caring’ does not have to equal ‘giving out free stuff’ and ‘open-minded’ does not have to equal ‘being liberal.’ It’s time we try to take these attributes back,” the report said.

The CRNC said the partyy can reclaim these narratives by promoting economic growth and opportunity, and by down playing the “fend for yourself” stigma that is often applied to the conservative movement.

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