OPINION: Young people want to vote Republican, if the establishment GOP wises up already
In the past year, failed policies and broken promises have caused Millennials to become increasingly disillusioned with the Obama administration, causing a shift on the political spectrum to the right among young voters.
If Republicans harness this momentum, youth voters could defy decades of established voting behavior and abandon Democrats in November in favor of Republican candidates, helping the GOP secure control of Congress.
That’s a big if.
Listen up, Republicans; here’s how to capitalize on your newfound Millennial fans and convince them to support you come Election Day:
It’s the Economy, Stupid
What weighs most prominently on the minds of Millennials is the never-ending economic recession. They shoulder massive student loan debts and dismal job prospects.
“This is a generation that is in danger of being left out of the American dream—the first American generation to do less well economically than their parents,” writes Marc Tracy in the New Republic.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll released Jan. 8 reflects this fiscal frustration among 18- to 29-year-olds, with a majority of young Americans disapproving of Obama’s handling of the economy.
Ashley Pratte, spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation, said the possibility of Millennials being cut out of the American dream stems from “unemployment, economic hardship, and less opportunity.”
“We are the first generation of people who might not be better off than the generation before us because we are saddled with debt and terrible unemployment rates,” she said in an email to The College Fix. “When it is discovered that liberal ‘tax and spend’ ideology is just not common sense, conservatives win the argument based on our ideology of fiscal responsibility.”
The youth dissent toward liberal ideologies, she added, “creates a window of opportunity for conservatives to spread their message of free enterprise, economic freedom, and pro-growth principles.”
If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It – NOT!
The other top concern for Millennials is healthcare, an issue that has been exacerbated by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, most young Americans disapprove of how Obama handled his healthcare platform and oppose the new federal health mandate.
The reason the new healthcare law is so unpopular among Millennials is the detriment they face as a direct result of it, explains Bob Graboyes, reporter for US News and World Report.
Obamacare places an undue financial burden on young Americans in that “Millennials’ life prospects have already suffered under the weight of the Great Recession and its aftermath,” he wrote. “Their job markets are shaky and their student loans large. Now, large health insurance premiums and other costs hidden in the ACA will further dim those prospects.”
Further, the basic principle of the system is flawed because “younger, healthier Americans are required under Obamacare to overpay for their insurance so that older, sicker, and (by and large) wealthier Americans can underpay for their insurance,” Graboyes stated.
Such a hefty price tag does not mean better healthcare either, as many are now discovering.
“For all of the extra financial burden that Millennials and others will bear under Obamacare, many will discover that their new insurance plans buy them a great deal less than their old plans did. Many exchange plans will offer narrow networks – fewer doctors, fewer hospitals,” Graboyes explained.
Republicans can win youth voters by presenting candidates who offer viable suggestions to reverse the damage done to Millennials by the Affordable Care Act, and actually allow them to keep, or return to, their health plans if they liked them.
Get On The Same (Facebook) Page
Creating a policy agenda that appeals to Millennials is only half the battle; the other half is getting the message out.
This means candidates must use mediums that appeal to young voters, such as social networking, targeted advertisement, and hitting the pavement to meet voters in person.
After the 2012 presidential election, the College Republican National Committee extensively researched how the GOP can better appeal to Millennials and released a report detailing their findings: Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation.
Being present in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook is crucial, the report found, but not the only online format in which candidates can reach out to Millennials.
“Investing in advertisements on services like Hulu and Pandora reach people – especially young people – in places where they are increasingly turning to view and hear content,” the report states.
It also acknowledged the prevalence of mobile devices among Millennials, and how to utilize that technology: “Apps that encourage a user to call through their contacts on their phones, text fundraising campaigns, even campaign websites that are designed to be easily readable on mobile devices to encourage sign-ups – all are ways that a campaign can create two-way communication with younger supporters.”
Modern marketing techniques alone are not enough to gain supporters, and candidates must hit the campaign trail in person and meet with young Americans.
“As the old saying goes, ‘half of life is showing up,’ and it’s time Republicans started showing up where young people are,” the report stated.
Change the Box, Not the Pizza
Let’s face it, the Republican Party suffers from a serious image problem.
It’s been branded as the party of white, stodgy old men with sinister ties to big business, and very little attempt has been made to disprove this misperception.
The perception barrier is one of the main deterrents for Millennials from the Republican Party, according to Mary Kate Cary of US News and World Report.
“I find that very few college students will admit in public to being Republican – why should they?” she wrote. “They may agree with conservative principles, but they don’t want the party label.”
Ryan Lizza, a writer for The New Yorker, put it like this:
“Since the 2012 elections, the Republicans have been divided between those who believe their policies are the problem and those who believe they just need better marketing—between those who believe they need to make better pizza and those who think they just need a more attractive box.”
It’s a little of both.
In order to change young Americans’ current perspective of Republicans, candidates need to demonstrate that they care about Millennials – either by standing up for common beliefs or by presenting solutions to the issues that concern them.
Furthermore, Millennials need candidates they can identify with – and the party ranks are filled with many young, rising stars such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan. Candidates like them will match young Americans in passion, energy and perseverance.
Republican candidates have been presented with a tremendous advantage in the upcoming midterm elections – but only if they do not squander the opportunity Millennials have given them.
College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at University of Arizona.