There’s no question the GOP has a youth problem.
Since President Obama’s re-election last November, Republicans have been scratching their heads, wondering why, despite double-digit youth unemployment, historically high student loan debt and an abysmal job market, young people still came out in droves for Obama.
But the GOP’s youth problem predates Barack Obama. In 2004, President Bush lost the youth vote to the less-than-exciting John Kerry, 54-45 percent.
In 2008, President Obama won the youth vote by nearly double. Then, despite the dire economic state of the nation, Millennials still voted to re-elect Obama 67- 30 percent in 2012.
The Republican National Committee did some serious introspection after 2012, putting out its lengthy post-mortem, the Growth and Opportunity Project. The RNC’s college counterpart, the CRNC, produced a brutally honest assessment as well, focused solely on the youth vote.
As the CRNC report candidly revealed, young people associated the GOP with the phrases, “closed-minded, racist, rigid, and old-fashioned.”
Many within the party are asking themselves how the GOP will ever reverse the spiraling millennial voter trend, while others continue to chalk it up to a simple messaging problem — a dangerous conclusion.
To avoid the areas where young people seriously disagree, some young Republican groups have decided to focus all their messaging on fiscal policy.
The problem is, just saying you aren’t going to talk about issues where your party platform may be unpopular with your target audience (drug policy, foreign policy, civil liberties, DOMA, and the list goes on…), is hiding from the problem. It also isn’t winning lifelong voters to your side. All it’s doing is offering a “this or that” option and asking them to weigh which party they disagree with less.
Young people want to identify with a political party that they don’t feel like they constantly have to apologize for. Millenials want a party whose values and principles they can identify with, not one that gets just enough things right.