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Poll offers clues to GOP on how to woo Millennials

in 2017/Top Headlines by

The GOP has been working on formulating messages that will appeal to younger voters. Their efforts include reaching out to women and minorities, including the latest effort Tuesday using New York Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik – the youngest woman ever elected to Congress – to lead a House hearing on “millennials and the GOP.”

It’s no wonder this is being crafted as a key effort gearing up to the 2016 presidential election.

A survey conducted this month by Toluna Quicksurveys showed that 91 percent of voters born between the early 1980s and early 2000s plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Of those, only 21 percent identify as Republicans while 41 percent indicated they were Democrats. Another 22 percent said they had no party affiliation and 16 percent were registered Independent.

This is a problem long identified by Republicans whose fiscal policies tend to favor the financially affluent and social stances align with the traditionally older religious conservative base.

As issues like same-sex marriage, medical marijuana and equal pay for women become increasingly more accepted among Millennial voters, the GOP finds itself at odds with the younger group time and time again.

But there is a ray of hope for the Grand Old Party based on this latest survey – only 25 percent of respondents said social issues were more important than fiscal ones. A whole 40 percent of respondents indicated they were more concerned with economic issues.

The disparity could lie in increasing student loan debt figures. Debt has been on the rise in recent years. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, 1.3 million students had at least some debt in 2012. That was up from 1.1 million in 2008 and just 0.9 million in 2004.

The amount of debt is also on the rise. The average debt for a student at a public university rose 25 percent from 2008 to 2012 landing at $25,550. And students who chose to go to for-profit colleges saw mounting debt of nearly $40,000.

With the cost of tuition and other post-secondary education expenses rising, more and more students are putting emphasis on how lawmakers plan to address the issue.

The solutions can cross party lines and are likely a key area the GOP can wrangle the Millennial vote.

Republicans may want to consider a softer message on women’s issues. An overwhelming majority of women polled – 70 percent – indicated it was “very important” the candidate they voted for was a woman. One in three men surveyed indicated the same.

With Hillary Clinton the Democratic frontrunner for president in 2016 and a packed crowd of male GOP contenders, formulating women-friendly messages this campaign season is likely to be a key part of conservative efforts.

The poll was conducted among 1,000 Millennial voters nationwide.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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