The College Republican National Committee (CRNC) released yet another post-mortem today. The report was focused on the reasons the Republicans lost the youth vote so badly. POLITICO was privy to an exclusive copy of the report which will be released privately to Republican officials and outside groups. As this post is being written, the document was released online here.
According to POLITICO, the report was based on two national surveys of 800 registered voters between the ages of 18 and 29. It also included six focus groups of young people, including Hispanics, Asian-Americans, single women, economically struggling men, and aspiring entrepreneurs in Ohio, Florida, and California. Given that the GOP lost the black vote by a large margin, one must wonder why some research was not done as to blacks’ anathema of the GOP. That in itself illustrates the innate belief many minorities and blacks specifically have that not only is the party resistant to diversity, but it does not realize that even its research methodology fails to show the extent of that resistance.
According to POLITICO:
In the report, the young Republican activists acknowledge that their party has suffered significant damage in recent years. A sampling of the critique follows:
Gay marriage: “On the ‘open-minded’ issue … [w]e will face serious difficulty so long as the issue of gay marriage remains on the table.”
Hispanics: “Latino voters … tend to think the GOP couldn’t care less about them.”
Perception of the party’s economic stance: “We’ve become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it, but won’t offer you a hand to help you get there.”
Big reason for the image problem: The “outrageous statements made by errant Republican voices.”
Words that up-for-grabs voters associate with the GOP: “The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.” [Source]
Further, according to Talking Points Memo:
But a close reading of the 90-page report finds that young people have strong disagreements with Republican policies — including large parts of former candidate Mitt Romney’s platform — and are far more likely to support progressive positions. Here are 11 examples:
- GOP economic polices are to blame for the recession.
- Lower taxes will not create jobs.
- Increase taxes on the wealthy.
- End the attacks on women’s reproductive health.
- Expand universal health care coverage.
- Provide comprehensive immigration reform.
- Cut the defense budget first.
- Democrats are more responsive on student loans.
- Climate change is real.
- Bush’s wars blew up the deficit.
- Marriage equality for all. [Source]
Here’s the video:
The report states that both President Reagan and President George W. Bush were competitive with the youth vote and that significant work will be necessary to repair the damage done to the Republican brand over the last decade. What remains at issue is that the report fails to understand that Republicans do not have a messaging problem; they have the “acceptance of facts” problem. The following excerpt is probative.
“We found that there were misconceptions and common ways of thinking among people who didn’t view the Republican Party favorably that were simply not in accord with where the party actually stands,” Smith told POLITICO.
That was especially the case with certain economic issues. The report said that on many questions tied to that subject, young people and the GOP are, in fact, on the same page: support for entrepreneurship and small businesses and slashing spending in many instances, for example. But that common ground often got lost for young voters.
To combat that, the report stressed that the GOP should better explain how its policies translate into economic growth for the country and for individuals. On an issue that hits especially close to home for young voters — student loans — Democrats are perceived as taking more action. [Source]
Of course, most in the focus groups and the scientific study would agree with those points. Every liberal Democrat and Republican and every conservative Democrat & Republican believe in robust entrepreneurship, robust small businesses, and slashing wasteful spending. The problem is how you get there.
Republicans belief in trickle-down economics as the way to induce a robust economy has failed. Reagan started that process while George W. Bush continued it on steroids. Young people can see that hard work does not necessarily make wealth and success anymore. The people sitting on their rear ends moving capital are the ones rewarded. When young people leave college with a large debt load and they hear that a Republican Party wants to leave loan rates that float with the desires of bankers, they understand the party may say they care, but their actions say otherwise.
When young people see austerity measures that, even though publicly debunked, are still the core of the Republican ideology and actions, they understand that the party has no intention in investing in them, even as those who are rewarded today profited by policies youth will be paying for. Young people understand that the income and wealth disparity can be directly attributed to the same policies Republicans continue to push.
When young people see the caricature that characterizes many of the Tea Party rallies and the hate for government these “we the people” groups promote, they become embarrassed for the country that preaches tolerance. When young people hear Republicans talking about wasteful spending, they generally have one word: “defense.” Why invest so much in defense when there are no enemies that require the type of defense infrastructure being maintained, as opposed to investing those dollars in human capital? How much more effective would America be if it invested in the free education of its youth to make the country more competitive in a world in which the U.S. is losing its edge?
Ultimately the paper has limited impact because it fails to understand that it’s less that the Republican Party has a messaging problem than a failed ideological problem. The Republican Party is supposed to be the party that balances the country. The country is largely a liberal country, though most will not characterize themselves that way; it only becomes clear when one itemizes what most people want.
The Republican party must be the party that balances the potential excesses of liberals. Unfortunately, it has become an obstructionist party that has no regard for the middle class, and that has made it beholden to the plutocracy. Only when the party comes to truth and reality will it be a viable party for the country again. It is the job of the REAL Republicans to take back the reins.