Another GOP “autopsy” is out, and this one, from the College Republican National Committee, looks at why young people rejected the GOP in 2012. And — unsurprisingly — it found a “dismal present situation.”
“Grand Old Party for a Brand-New Generation” basically finds that the GOP’s biggest problem with young people is that it’s not the Democratic Party. Think Progress‘ Igor Volsky looked at the study and found that younger voters simply don’t trust the GOP or agree with them on much of anything.
Focus groups were asked how voters would describe the GOP. “The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.”
The CRNC reminds us that as recently as 2000, the GOP came within 2 percentage points of winning the youth vote. However, that was before the Bush administration and the Tea Party movement, which has moved the party further to the right on social issues than it has been in generations.
The report recommends re-messaging the GOP’s policies. For instance, it suggests shedding the talking point “We need to reduce the size of government because it is simply too big,” which was only endorsed by 72 percent of respondents in favor of “We need leaders who aren’t afraid to fight existing interests like big companies and big unions in order to reform outdated and unsustainable programs,” which 93 percent of respondents liked. Because you know how Republicans love to go after big companies — for donations!
Despite Paul Ryan’s charming references to his iPod, the report found that “to shed the brand of being old-fashioned, the GOP need not just find young candidates who can make pop culture references with ease.” Instead they need to find leaders who speak to young people’s concerns.
The closest the report gets to making a helpful recommendation is “Don’t concede ‘caring’ and ‘open-minded’ to the left.” To do this, they would need to quickly change the course of the GOP Titanic that’s headed into a generational iceberg.
Here are five reasons it doesn’t look as if that will happen.
Attacks On Planned Parenthood
Republican icon Barry Goldwater’s wife helped found Planned Parenthood in 1937 and the former senator from Arizona supported the organization even when he didn’t agree with its stance on abortion. The group first received Title X federal funding thanks to a law signed by Richard Nixon, and it continued receiving taxpayer dollars during the administrations of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Then in 2009 the allegedly “non-partisan” Tea Party movement helped spark an attack on family planning and Planned Parenthood on the state and federal levels. Allegedly moderate governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) joined hardliners like Scott Walker (R-WI) and Rick Perry (R-TX) in defunding the group, though it provides essential services to millions of women while saving millions of dollars.
There’s no sign Republicans are willing to give up this crusade and until they do, the charge of a “War on Women” will continue to resonate, especially for the young women who have limited options when it comes to reproductive health care.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Trying To Stop Young People From Voting
One of the key ways the GOP expresses its disdain for younger voters is by seeking infinite ways to prevent students from voting. In Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia, Republicans have pursued laws that would make it harder, if not impossible, for non-resident students to cast a ballot. Again and again, Republicans have implied that they would rather have those who are not likely to vote for candidates with an “R” next to their names not vote at all.
AP Photo/J Pat Carter, File
Doubling Down Against Same-Sex Marriage
The evolution of the American public’s opinion on same-sex marriage has been rapid and undeniable, everywhere except the Republican Party. After Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced that his openly gay son had swayed him to supporting the rights of LGBT couples to marry, Republican National Committeeman and noted homophobe Dave Agema demanded that his party reaffirm its stance that marriage should only between a man and a woman. They did this unanimously.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Stuck On Self-Deportation
Republicans know President Obama’s policy of allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States was a lot more popular with Latino voters than Mitt Romney’s stated policy of “self-deportation.” They also know they need to pass immigration reform to have any hope of ever improving their share of the Latino vote, which along with their share of the youth vote has gone down every presidential election since 2000.
However, they can’t help themselves.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants comprehensive immigration reform with no path to citizenship. House Republicans insist that the border be secure before citizenship can even be considered — even though the border is already more secure than it has been in decades.
A recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that 78 percent of Americans ages 18-29 support granting legal status to undocumented immigrants, compared to percentages in the 60s for those age 50 and older. This suggests that killing immigration reform — or weakening it to the point of uselessness — will hurt the GOP with young people as much as it will with Latinos.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File
Fake Environmentalism Isn’t Good Enough
Rand Paul (R-KY) loves being outdoors. He calls himself a “crunchy Con.” In a speech at the Reagan Library last week, he explained that he even reads books about the environment:
The senator praised Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which he read last year, about growing and harvesting one’s own food and buying locally. He said his family tries to buy as much as they can from a local farmer’s market, but they still shop at the supermarket, too.
Paul also cited Joel Salatin’s Folks, This Ain’t Normal, another book about sustainable farming.
Paul said he took his son, Robert, to visit the author’s farm in the Shenandoah Valley last year, where he grass-feeds his cows, chickens and hogs.
But Paul thinks manmade climate change — which is accepted by 97 percent of scientists — is a hoax aimed at ending capitalism. This enemy of the EPA would love for you to think of him as “crunchy,” but he’s exactly the kind of senator who keeps big oil happy and subsidized by the U.S. taxpayers.
Paul is what young people — at least people who were young when I was young — call a “poser.” And there’s nothing “the kids” like less than that.
AP Photo/Aron Heller, File