The Republican Party’s troubles with young voters are well known. But a new internal report virtually elevates the threat level to apocalyptic, declaring that the GOP needs a “fundamental re-thinking” of its approach in order to remain viable with the younger generation.
The 95-page report by the College National Republican Committee, based on in-depth research by the Winston Group on voters aged 18-29 nationwide, warns of “a dismal present situation” for the GOP when it comes to Millennial voters.
“Neither technology, nor policy, nor branding alone will fully endear the Republican Party to a generation that has now twice broken for a Democratic candidate by historic margins,” the report concludes. “Yet a message and narrative that focuses on economic growth and opportunity cannot exist without substance behind it. [T]here are still many items in the Republican economic agenda that young voters have not been sold on.”
Here are some of the report’s starkest findings about the GOP’s challenges:‘Closed-Minded, Racist, Rigid, Old-Fashioned’
Uncommitted young voters may not be enamored with the Democratic Party but they have a terrible opinion of the GOP.
“In the focus group research conducted in January 2013,” the report said, “the young ‘winnable’ Obama voters were asked to say what words came to mind when they heard ‘Republican Party.’ The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.”
‘Couldn’t Care Less’
“We’ve become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it, but won’t offer a
hand to help you get there. This has to change in order to have a shot with young voters.”
The GOP’s focus on low taxes and pro-business policies has left young voters thinking “they will only reap the benefits of Republican policies if they become wealthy or rise to the top of a big business.” The GOP is at risk of being seen as the “fend for yourself” party.
Latino voters in particular “tend to think the GOP couldn’t care less about them,” the report said.
‘Stupid Party,’ ‘Errant Republican Voices’
Bobby Jindal was “absolutely right” to worry that the GOP’s mustn’t be the stupid party.
“The ‘intelligent’ brand (among other positive attributes) is seriously undercut by outrageous statements made by errant Republican voices that are inevitably repeated over and over in the media,” the report said.
‘The Most Extreme Anti-Abortion Position’
Being pro-life isn’t inherently a detriment to the GOP but far-right anti-abortion rhetoric has come to define the party and is alienating the younger generation.
“Unfortunately for the GOP,” the report said, “the Republican Party has been painted – both by Democrats and by unhelpful voices in our own ranks — as holding the most extreme anti-abortion position (that it should be prohibited in all cases).”
In terms of being seen as “open-minded,” the report found, “we will face serious difficulty so long as the issue of gay marriage remains on the table.”
The solution? Promote “diversity of thought” and welcome a “healthy debate” on the issue. And: “We should also strongly oppose the use of anti-gay rhetoric.”
‘Turn Voters Away’
While immigration isn’t a top priority for young voters, “the immigration debate may set up a ‘gateway issue,'” the report said. “For voters who are undecided but have a connection to communities affected by immigration policy, the issue can certainly turn voters away.”
More broadly, “[t]he issue of the Republican Party’s challenges with the youth vote and the
party’s challenges with non-white voters are inseparable.”
Read the full report below: