Hey, Republicans, you need to pay attention to this: Millennials really dig candidates with libertarian leanings

I Stand With Rand

Republicans are trying to figure out how to connect with Millennials — young voters between the ages of 18 and 34 — to break the stranglehold that President Barack Obama and Democrats on them. Well, polling data released late last week by Reason-Rupe offers some great insight into the sort of candidate can win this coveted voting block over:

A majority—53 percent—of millennials say they would support a candidate who described him or herself as socially liberal and economically conservative, 16 percent were unsure, and 31 percent would oppose such a candidate.

Interestingly, besides libertarians, liberal millennials are the most supportive of a libertarian-leaning candidate by a margin of 60 to 27 percent. Conservative millennials are most opposed (43% to 48% opposed).

A libertarian-leaning candidate would appeal to both Democratic and Republican voters. For instance, 60 percent of Hillary Clinton voters, 61 percent of Rand Paul voters, 71 percent of Chris Christie voters, and 56 percent of those who approve of President Obama all say they would support a fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidate.
The fact that a socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate mainly attracts liberals over conservatives indicates that social issues rather than economics largely drive millennials’ political judgments. It also suggests millennials are more socially liberal than they are economically liberal.

Though it’s sort of watered down a definition, a “socially liberal and economically conservative” basically translates to libertarian. This provides an opening for the next generation of Republican candidates — including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) — who tend pay very little attention to social issues, but highlight issues that can appeal to young people. Those issues include rolling back the war on drugs and civil liberties.

Among the problems that Republicans and outside organizations face is how to win the short-game, such as upcoming elections, while also planting seeds with new voters, like Millennials and minorities. Some groups — like the Foundation for Economic Education, Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty — are taking that effort seriously, which is why libertarian views have become so much more prevalent among young people.

Republicans have got to embrace the growing libertarian strain in the party rather than keep putting up status quo candidates in the mold of John McCain, Rick Santorum, or Todd Akin who do little more than turn young people away.

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