Don’t look now, but I think the GOP might have actually heard my warning from earlier this month regarding the future of their party. Two weeks ago the College Republican National Committee (CRNC), along with numerous consultants, produced a scathing study of how and why youth voters haven’t been voting for the Republicans. You can read the full study here if you’d like. It’s actually a pretty decent/easy read, even though it is 95 pages.
The study looked at 3 main aspects of the Republican party: Technology, Policy, and Messaging. In all 3 situations, the Republicans were surprisingly harsh on themselves (albeit rightfully so). There was the occasional optimism, as one might expect, but the overall feel of the report was that the Republicans needed to change how it reaches young people, what it’s preaching to young people, and how they are saying it to young people.
Now, we probably needed this study about as much as we needed someone to tell us going to China to seek political asylum defies common logic. But hey, it’s worked for Edward Snowden (so far), maybe this study will work for the GOP.
The main theme across the report was that the GOP really isn’t losing young voters because of the general ideas of their party, but because they cannot properly communicate it to young voters. They cite the Obama campaigns successful use of Twitter and Facebook regularly, even pointing to specific posts. This one in particular was mentioned directly, as it was the most retweeted picture since Twitter’s existence.
The point they were trying to hammer was that the Obama campaigns posts that most often got shared by their followers were ones regarding his family (because they are the cutest family on the freakin planet. well….almost). On the other hand, the Romney campaign’s most shared items were ones regarding finances and deadlines, which is easily the most Republican thing that it could have been.
Can you really blame them for not getting more into the social media scene, though? Every time they showed up on social media it was because they were doing something completely idiotic and it went viral. (see: Romney, Mitt; Akin, Todd)
So their solution for this problem is to make things more personal. They want to connect more with their followers and with young people by creating content that the users will then share on their own. And I can’t help but say that that is a keen observation, and if they are able to implement it properly it could greatly improve their social media presence.
The next subject was their actual substance. This was the part of the study that was the least critical of the GOP. They believe their message can resonate with young people. They found that substantial percentage of the young people in their focus groups would like to run their own small business one day, giving the GOP this reaction:
So they want to tap into that aspect of the young voters. The good ol’ entrepreneurial spirit. Too bad their policies don’t exactly help students and recent graduates. They are on the verge of letting student loan interest rates double at the end of the month, something our good friend Elizabeth Warren is fighting tooth and nail (I’d simply link it, but this speech is too good not to watch.)
The final part of the study was analyzing how the GOP is getting their message across. The two most interesting bits of information I found while reading this was when the surveyors asked the focus group who were some up-and-coming party leaders for the Democrats and the Republicans? They couldn’t really name any Democrats, but could spout off a bunch of “young” Republicans like Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Bobby Jindal.
What did they chalk this up to? Well they are the younger party of course! Not, ya know, because they were the challenger party in the presidential race this past year and spent over 2 years speculating who would run or anything.
Sure, maybe they are the younger party, but until you can get the old white men to stop making stupid remarks about women, you’re probably not going to be considered the “young” party.
The other part I found quite interesting was actually the question right before the “up-and comers” question. It asked who were the current party leaders. The focus group easily spouted off Obama, Nancy Pelosi, the Clintons, the Kennedy’s, and Al Gore for Democrats. There’s a trend there.
There was a trend for the Republicans, too, but it was far more telling. The names that came up for Republican leaders: Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.
It’s not a good sign when the leaders of your party are all (fucking. crazy.) TV personalities. And this is what the youth identified party leaders have to say about the youth they so desperately need to covet:
“Why should the Republicans care about a bunch of kids who don’t know anything, and like the guy because he’s flashy. What message does it send to the GOP?”
THAT is the problem right there. The “leaders” of the Republican party clearly don’t give two shits about what young people think and openly mock them. Until that changes drastically, the Republicans will continue to lose the young vote by huge margins.