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Jun 06 2013

GOP Recognizes Young People Problem

A Republican group has put out a report on the problems the party has had attracting young voters over the last few election cycles and it’s about as blunt as it could be. Based on survey data and focus groups with voters aged 18-29, the report shows that the party has a serious problem going forward.

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.”

“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…

“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…

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.”

You can read the full report here.

34 comments

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  1. 1
    Doc Bill

    The point that I think is missed regarding Republicans is that it’s not that they SAY stupid things, rather, they BELIEVE stupid things.

    You can’t do a competent job if you’re mentally incompetent and accuse competent people of casting aspersions on your asparagus.

  2. 2
    ashleybell

    I’m sorry… But at this point, any willful association with the republican party tells me all I really need to know about you. Moderate republicans my ass. If you haven’t jettisoned this party by now, you’ve essentially told me what you think about gays, women, minorities, etc. Shame on you…That stain will NOT come out. bubye!!

  3. 3
    Mr Ed

    I used to be Republicans were about money – we help the rich and someday you might be rich. Now they are the party of of religious fanatics – bring back the dark ages family values. They really need a better slogan.

  4. 4
    doublereed

    The report is pretty awesome. It talks about the technology problems, the brand problems, and the policy problems.

    It’s actually frightening because you realize that the GOP could change a couple things and actually have quite a good shot at coming back.

  5. 5
    erichoug

    Frankly, I can’t see how anyone who isn’t and older, white, male, fundamentalist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigot could, in good conscience, vote for a republican.

  6. 6
    Alverant

    The GOP is at risk of being seen as the “fend for yourself” party.

    Too late!

  7. 7
    Larry

    GOP could change a couple things and actually have quite a good shot at coming back

    How is that re-branding thing coming along? Last I heard, they’re making women responsible for their own rapes in the military, insisting the downfall of the US began when women started appearing in the work place, insisting that allowing gays into the boy scouts is worse than nazi-ism. I’m sure there are other examples but I can only hold so much derp in my head at any given time.

    Upshot to your comment is: not in our lifetime.

  8. 8
    freemage

    ashleybell: I agree with you on the national scale. There are pockets of the country, however, where the Democrats are so corrupt that we breed Republicans just out of sheer frustration. The candidates there tend to be destined to live and die as local pols, though, because of the way the fanatics have been bending the national party for decades.

  9. 9
    scienceavenger

    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.”

    This is hilarious. Go read any article on Townhall.com, a very mainstream GOP site, on the issue of homosexuality, and check out the comments. There you will learn that homosexuals are mentally ill child molesters who hate God and don’t want to get married anyway, that marriage equality already exists (because homosexual men and marry women too), and that science and logic backs all of this. Any attempt to engage in “healthy debate” results in you being accused of being a child molester yourself, or of course, and anti-American commie.

    Diversity of thought and healthy debate are only possible with people who’ve formed their opinions that way. With faith-based views, its impossible, whether its faith in gods, or the free market.

  10. 10
    scienceavenger

    That should read “because homosexual men CAN marry women too”.

  11. 11
    doublereed

    How is that re-branding thing coming along? Last I heard, they’re making women responsible for their own rapes in the military, insisting the downfall of the US began when women started appearing in the work place, insisting that allowing gays into the boy scouts is worse than nazi-ism. I’m sure there are other examples but I can only hold so much derp in my head at any given time.

    Upshot to your comment is: not in our lifetime.

    Maybe not within this election cycle or the next, but things can change pretty rapidly. And young voters aren’t that liberal, especially on economic issues or national security.

    Not to mention that we have an incredibly short memory. I remember the bloodythirsty crowd of the republican primaries of 2012 at the mention of a possible war with Iran. And this is while the Iraq War is incredibly unpopular. Please, the GOP can continue screwing up for the next four years, and then adjust their policies/outreach and make a comeback in 2020 or 2024.

  12. 12
    D. C. Sessions

    the report shows that the party has a serious problem going forward.

    And they have an even more serious problem right now: the policies and platitudes that Republican officeholders need to get elected are directly opposed to what the Party needs to avoid being flushed down the demographic tubes.

    Addressing the demographic issue is essential to the future of the Party, but isn’t an officeholder’s problem: his problem is winning the next election — or more to the point, the next primary. The long run isn’t much good if you’re out on your own knocking on K Street doors for a lobbying gig.

    And then there’s the really immediate challenge: staying on the good side of the Republican Party leadership: Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh.

  13. 13
    daved

    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.

    Offhand, I’d say young people are getting the message perfectly. See, they’re not dumb after all!

  14. 14
    petemoulton

    doublereed: “It’s actually frightening because you realize that the GOP could change a couple things and actually have quite a good shot at coming back.”

    It might be frightening except for one important factor: the GOPers are terrified of anything that even looks like a new idea, so they won’t be changing anything substantive. They’ll just put a new coat of wax on the same old dog turd, and polish it some more.

  15. 15
    M can help you with that.

    @5:

    Frankly, I can’t see how anyone who isn’t and older, white, male, fundamentalist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigot could, in good conscience, vote for a republican.

    I don’t think anyone can vote Republican in good conscience*. With a dulled conscience, maybe…

    *(OK, maybe if a moderate-ish RINO were running against one of those weird right-wing wacko “Democrats” that crop up now and then…)

  16. 16
    composer99

    The GOP may recognize it has a problem, but it seems to be a ways away from figuring out how to solve it.

  17. 17
    doublereed

    It might be frightening except for one important factor: the GOPers are terrified of anything that even looks like a new idea, so they won’t be changing anything substantive. They’ll just put a new coat of wax on the same old dog turd, and polish it some more.

    Other than gay marriage and education, this doesn’t seem to be necessary. It seems they can remain pro-life, anti-union, pro-flat tax, anti-woman etc. etc. and still have quite a good shot at winning over considerable voters if they put a shiny enough coat of wax on it.

  18. 18
    machintelligence

    Please, the GOP can continue screwing up for the next four years, and then adjust their policies/outreach and make a comeback in 2020 or 2024.

    the report shows that the party has a serious problem going forward

    I can’t see how anyone who isn’t and older, white, male, fundamentalist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigot could, in good conscience, vote for a republican

    As long as the Republicans continue to be the party of old angry male fundamentalists, they have a serious demographic problem. The older ones are dying off faster than they can find new recruits. Some years ago, before the religious right took overt the party, I could understand some of their concerns and find some sympathy for them. Now I am happy to see them headed down the road to oblivion.

  19. 19
    kantalope

    The weird part is that they act like it is a branding or message confusion problem. And it just isn’t. People do know what the repubs stand for – they just don’t like it. In fact the problem, as I see it, is that repubs won’t say what they really mean often enough. They feel they have to hide their real message because of ‘political correctness’.

    NO

    In a democracy, you should just say what you mean. If that means you don’t get elected. boo hoo. That is how it should work. You should not pretend you are not the party-of-stupid to get votes and then be stupid once elected. Let the voters know you are stupid right up front so they can decide if that is what they really want.

  20. 20
    Modusoperandi

    kantalope “Let the voters know you are stupid right up front so they can decide if that is what they really want.”
    To be fair, “Vote for Stupid” would still get them a solid minority in both house and senate and control of most of the formerly Confederate states.
    Add in a minority outreach program (where the “reach out” is to smack some group those minorities hate or fear, “The Democrat party is planning to put a Lithuanian under every bed in America, Latvian Americans!”) and you’re up to filibuster territory.

  21. 21
    Pierce R. Butler

    The Repubs aren’t the only ones to recognize a young-people problem.

    They get on my lawn too!

  22. 22
    ArtK

    I was mildly amused by the section that said that young people could recognize more “future leaders” of the Republicans than Democrats, as if that were a good thing. The names cited, with one exception, are people who have said mind-numbingly stupid things — things that the report says that they have to stop saying in order to be successful. It’s not a good thing to be widely known as an “up and coming” idiot.

  23. 23
    d.c.wilson

    kantalope@19:

    Actually, I think their problem is they do say what they believe far too often. It’s just that what they believe in is rampant sexism, homophobia, racism, and fuck-the-poor-ism.

  24. 24
    Michael Heath

    machineintelligence writes:

    Now I am happy to see them [GOP] headed down the road to oblivion.

    I think it’s far from certain the GOP’s on the road to oblivion. They’ve been very successful gerrymandering districts, giving areas heavy with conservative Christians voting power vastly disproportionate other Americans. They don’t need a majority of voters, they instead need to keep increasing the majority of voting districts where they have a majority. Where they’re increasingly competent when it comes to this practice and increasingly willing to practice this illiberal practice.

    The GOP has also becoming increasingly willing to obstruct progress when not in the majority and put very extreme policies in place when in the majority.

    In addition and most concerning, they’re successful obstructing mitigation of climate change. That will guarantee increased human suffering. Where people who lack of critical thinking skills are increasingly attracted to the type of authoritarian religion and politics the GOP increasingly embraces when suffering increases. So while the GOP faces a demographic challenge now, that can change if they adapt enough to attract non-white populists, where their policies increase the potential for more populists given our increasing income inequality and their increasing ability to damage our educational capabilities.

  25. 25
    baal

    “The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.”
    Some labels are very sticky and hard to pull off. And then there is wisdom of the old lady who was asked what’s under the turtle….

    also +1 for M.Heath at 24.

  26. 26
    scienceavenger

    Right on cue, here gang, go try to have a healthy debate celebrating diversity of thought with these people.

  27. 27
    Loqi

    At risk of being seen as the fend for yourself party? Everyone knows they’re that party, and they have been since long before my time.

  28. 28
    PatrickG

    @ scienceavenger:

    I went over, read about 50 comments (not to mention the ridiculous piece itself!), and decided that I could do more productive things with my life. Like sticking forks into electrical outlets.

    BRAIN BLEACH! STAT!

  29. 29
    abb3w

    Possibly worth noting is that the group putting this out is the “College National Republican Committee” — which seems to be the college “Young Republicans” national umbrella group. Which suggests that it may be only the young GOP who have recognized the problem the GOP has with young people.

    There’s some stylistic suggestions, that may help polish the turd slightly. However, there seem to be two insurmountable problems (which the report’s conclusions fail to sufficiently emphasize):
    1) The GOP needs to shut the hell up on Gay Marriage.
    2) The GOP needs to be willing to stop doubling down on advocating means of policy when those repeatedly fail to produce the allegedly desired ends.

  30. 30
    otrame

    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.”

    And they think that because it is true.

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled off was to convince working class people to vote Republican. But as Mr. Lincoln noted, you can’t fool all the people all the time.

  31. 31
    Area Man

    “And young voters aren’t that liberal, especially on economic issues or national security.”

    Maybe not, but evidence strongly suggests that people adopt party affiliation by their early 20s and aren’t likely to change much thereafter. So whatever Republicans do, chances are that today’s 18-30 crowd will be voting heavily Democratic in 20 years when they’re the 38-50 crowd and they turnout in much larger numbers. And Republicans have been alienating young people for long enough now that they lose badly among everyone under 40. This is going to sting them for decades.

    Also, this survey was conducted among uncommitted Obama voters. That is, those who voted Obama but could at least have been talked into voting Romney. If even these people have such a dismal opinion of the Repubs, they’re in big trouble.

  32. 32
    dingojack

    The party of ‘fending for yourself’? I thought that would be the Libertarians*?
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Silly Dingo. They both use the same ol; “I’m all right Jack, fuck you” motto, it’s just that Libertarians don’t publically voice the ‘God Hates Homos’ rhetoric, unlike the Party o’ God.

  33. 33
    KathyO

    Young people are a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. I can’t say the same for the GOP if they treat this report with the same destain that they displayed for reports of their appeal to the black, Hispanic, LGBT or female communities.

    My favorite was Bill O’Reilly’s reaction to the study:

    So why should I care about this study, or why should the Republican Party care about a bunch of kids who don’t know anything…

    If you don’t know, we aren’t going to tell you.

  34. 34
    dingojack

    One can almost imagine Billo (and his ilk),saying ‘why do we need to care about mere chunks of frozen water?’ while standing at the bow-rail of the Titanic.
    Dingo

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