Listen up John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Boehner: There are Conservative youths in America, and they really don’t like what you’ve done to the GOP.
The College Republicans National Committee, an independent, section 527 political organization, has criticized the GOP for its lack of leadership, inability to communicate its party identity and its difficulty attracting the youth vote in a 95-page in-depth report cultivated from a huge focus group study.
Targeting their ambivalence about the youth vote, the College Republicans letter pointed out that George W. Bush lost young voters by only 2 points in 2000. Conversely, he lost senior citizens by 4 points. They also, once and for all, point out the importance of engaging with voters on social media, a method of communication primarily taken advantage of by Democrats in recent years.
“The common theme that unites these findings is that even as our ability to broadcast a message far and wide is increasing, politics still remains deeply personal. Using any of the aforementioned platforms to talk at young people with messaging that fails to be personally relevant is not useful at all.”
They go on to cite a “technology deficit” in the GOP, encouraging better polling data and advertising. They also touch on the hot-button social issues that the GOP are either ill-equipped to handle or seem to ignore entirely.
“On the ‘open-minded’ issue … [w]e will face serious difficulty so long as the issue of gay marriage remains on the table.” Also: “Latino voters … tend to think the GOP couldn’t care less about them.” When respondents were asked to describe the GOP, “The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.”
They also addressed something they called a “brand challenge,” criticizing the GOP of turning a blind eye to gaffe-worthy candidates while the media excoriates them non-stop.
“Whether the infamous ‘47%’ remarks made by Romney or the ‘legitimate rape’ comments made by Rep. Todd Akin in his Senate campaign, there were numerous examples of Republican leaders making statements that were terribly out of step with where voters – particularly young voters – stand.”
“In the discussion about the 2012 election and the failure to reach young voters, many point to poor candidates and flawed messengers as a key reason why the GOP suffered.”
They conclude with a call to change the narrative and stick to their strong points.
“Economic growth, tackling long-term challenges, and focusing on opportunity trumped narratives around the constitution, liberty, and American values. While those things are not unimportant, this generation is looking for outcomes – particularly economic outcomes – that are going to make them better off… A message focused on economic growth is a clear winner, but it must have the substance behind it in order to resonate and succeed.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus praised the College Republicans report despite its sometimes-harsh wording, saying that it represented a “deep dive into what politically motivates Millennials, just like our Growth and Opportunity Project,” and called their suggestions “great steps for our party to engage with more voters and win more elections.”
I don’t want to overstep my bounds here, but methinks that Mr. Priebus might be just as much a part of the problem.
What do you think? Do Republicans only have an image problem, or do their fundamental beliefs need to change? Sound off!
[Image via: Gage Skidmore]