The College Republican National Committee released a 95-page study on Monday, finding much the same as the Republican National Committee did in its “autopsy” following the 2012 debacles: namely, that young people perceive the GOP as old-fashioned and lacking diversity. The study surveyed 800 registered voters ages 18-29 nationwide, and held focus groups of young Obama voters in Florida, California and Ohio. Obama won 60 percent of the young vote, compared to Romney’s 37; and won the young vote against McCain by 66 to 32.
The new report once again suggests that same-sex marriage is an issue of high importance. About half of young voters said that same-sex marriage should be legal nation-wide, a quarter said that it should be up to states, and 30 percent disapprove of it anywhere. But how does this factor into voting preferences? About 60 percent of young voters said they would consider voting for a Republican candidate that they disagreed with on same-sex marriage, while the remaining said that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed same-sex marriage.
“In the short term, the best course of action for the party may be to promote the diversity of opinion within its ranks (after all, for quite some time, former vice president Dick Cheney was to the left of President Obama on same-sex marriage),” the report states.
This aside, the CRNC survey found that young voters are more focused on economic issues than social ones, with nearly half of respondents saying they want to start their own business one day. Yet the vocabulary of the right turns young voters off.
Instead of messages such as “reducing big government” or “cutting government spending”, young voters feel the same messages are more effective when spoken in the positive, i.e. “fixing the national debt”.
The report concludes that the GOP must convince young voters that it is the party for entrepreneurs and start-ups, not just for those who are already successful; and that Republicans shouldn’t concede “caring” and “open-minded” to the left.
Karen Cyphers, PhD, is a public policy consultant, researcher, and mother to three daughters.