ANALYSIS: The millennial vote is up for grabs
An informal College Fix straw poll of millennials at the Conservative Political Action Conference found they overwhelmingly favor Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Scott Walker for the 2016 Republican presidential nominee – but a good number remain undecided.
Of the 132 young people polled by The College Fix, Paul earned 31.8 percent of the vote, with Cruz coming in at second place with 26.5 percent, and Walker earning the third spot with 11.3 percent of voters.
And with a strong and surprising showing, 9 percent of young people said they have not made up their minds yet. With that, “undecideds” placed fourth, likely because the election is still two years away and they continue to size up candidates.
What’s more, young people at CPAC giving pause to their preference provides a stark contrast to millennial liberals who have placed their faith in Hillary Clinton because she’s the only prevalent candidate. It may be seen as a strength of the Republican Party that there are a wealth of potential candidates with different strong suits. Indeed, a dozen names sprang forth from the informal College Fix straw poll.
Here are the results:
Rand Paul-31.8% (42 votes)
Ted Cruz-26.5% (35)
Scott Walker-11.3% (15)
Jeb Bush-4.5% (6)
Chris Christie-3.7% (5)
Carly Fiorina-3.7% (5)
Marco Rubio-3% (4)
Rick Perry-1.5% (2)
Gary Johnson-1.5% (2)
John Bolton-1.5% (2)
Condoleezza Rice-.75% (1)
Ben Carson-.75% (1)
Despite delivering what many young people deemed a lackluster speech that addressed the floundering access to the American dream, among other topics, 42 voters out of 132 taken, or 31.8 percent of millennials surveyed, favored Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican with a libertarian bent.
Paul supporters maintained a highly vocal presence over the duration of the conference, but undoubtedly peaked during Paul’s address. Hundreds of students could be seen throughout the weekend wearing “I Stand With Rand” t-shirts, and sporting other Rand “swag” distributed in bulk by ardent supporters of his candidacy. Paul also won the official overall CPAC straw poll, with 25.7 percent of over 3,000 votes.
In The College Fix poll, conservative Texan Sen. Ted Cruz somewhat surprisingly came in a close second with 26.5 percent of the vote, beating out Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who received 11.3 percent of the vote, despite taking a close second in CPAC’s overall official straw poll.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush placed fifth with more than four percent of votes, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina brought in 3.7 percent of votes, the same as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Among those who surprisingly polled weakly were Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with 3 percent, and Ben Carson, with less than one percent.
Some surveys show that millennials favor a younger, newer face as their nomination, so it’s a surprise that Rubio lost to his elder counterparts Bush and Christie, despite tending to poll well with younger voters elsewhere.
Also notable is the nonexistent support for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, and Texas favorite Rick Perry, each of whom drew big crowds for their appearances at CPAC.
Bush, who reportedly bussed supporters in from K Street for his Q&A with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, is clearly not favored by conservative millennials, who want a fresh political face that isn’t perceived as establishment. During his speech, dozens of attendees, who appeared mainly to be Tea Party members or Rand Paul supporters, walked out on Bush in protest. Several were college-aged.
“America needs leaders who are committed to conservative values,” said Lauren McCue, a student at Virginia Tech. “Jeb Bush’s support of Common Core and amnesty are appalling and detrimental to this country. It’s evident that many conservatives agree with me from Jeb’s 5th place standing in the CPAC straw poll.”
Outside candidates like John Bolton, Condoleezza Rice, and libertarian Gary Johnson also received at least one vote.
Politics aside, millennials most enjoyed the diverse pool of candidates and speakers at CPAC, saying they appreciate how it fosters a competition of ideas.
“CPAC brought out the best in quality conservatism,” said Grand Valley State University student Benjamin Soltis. “While liberals say we are only about quantity, a forum where all perspective candidates had their turn instills the opportunity for picking the best choice for America while including the future of our party—millennials—in the process.”
College Fix reporters Derek Draplin and Samantha Audia are students at the University of Michigan.
IMAGES: Gage Skidmore/Flickr