youth vote

College Republicans plan to spend $2 million on outreach at universities, but that’s not enough to win over the youth vote

college students

Liberty-minded activists have been saying for what seems forever that the GOP needs to pay attention to winning the youth vote, or die. The fact that the party establishment has been essentially ignoring this voting bloc has been a source of consternation for pundits and political strategists alike. Now, it seems that this message is finally getting through, but it still isn’t being addressed anywhere near as well as it could be yet.

The College Republican National Committee is tossing some money — $2 million to be exact — at building a campus-based program to court young voters. It’s a nice gesture, but honestly isn’t much more than that. As of 2011, there were 2,870 four-year colleges in the U.S. — the schools that it is safe to assume that the GOP will focus on in this endeavor.

While it’s not realistic to think that they will attempt to launch some sort of outreach program on each and every one of those campuses right away, the honest truth is that if they are taking this seriously, the long-term plan needs to include them. So, that means that officially, the Republicans are prepared to commit approximately $700 per campus for this initiative.

Yes, there are nebulous promises of more money down the road, but we’ve seen this in other outreach programs before. The only concrete numbers available indicate that this is probably going to be a limited experiment by the party, or that this is lip service to grassroots organizers that have been calling for this sort of investment for years.

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Presidential Straw Poll

Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who gave one of the most anticipated speeches at CPAC, has won a plurality of the gathering’s annual presidential straw poll, finishing just ahead of his colleague, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

CPAC Presidential Straw Poll Results

According to CPAC, 52% of those who participated in the straw poll were between the age of 18 to 25, which highlights the growth of the youth participation. One would surmise that the liberty movement had a lot to do with this. Also, the poll found that 68% prefer targeted spending cuts to across-the-board cuts and an “overwhelming majority” oppose use of drones for strikes or spying.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is giving the keynote speech at this moment, which will close out CPAC for 2013. You can view the full results of the straw poll, including the survey questions asked of attendees, in the embed below. The takeaway is that there is a shift coming and it’s undeniable.

CPAC Straw Poll 2013

Dick Armey steps down as FreedomWorks tailors message to young voters

Dick Armey

After yesterday’s press conference with more than 100 activists who spoke with reporters about this year’s election and 2014, there has been more news coming from FreedomWorks. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who has served as chairman of the grassroots organization since 2003, has resigned his post due to issues over what direction FreedomWorks should take going forward:

In a move not publicly announced, former Rep. Dick Armey, the folksy conservative leader, has resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the main political outfits of the conservative movement and an instrumental force within the tea party.

Armey, the former House majority leader who helped develop and promote the GOP’s Contract with America in the 1990s, tendered his resignation in an memo sent to Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, on November 30. Mother Jones obtained the email on Monday, and Armey has confirmed he sent it. The tone of the memo suggests that this was not an amicable separation. (See Armey’s email below.) Armey demanded that he be paid until his contract ended on December 31; that FreedomWorks remove his name, image, or signature “from all its letters, print media, postings, web sites, videos, testimonials, endorsements, fund raising materials, and social media, including but not limited to Facebook and Twitter”; and that FreedomWorks deliver the copy of his official congressional portrait to his home in Texas.

How Republicans Can Attract The Youth Vote

Youth Vote

I am a young voter. The Republican Party is my political home. I am also a conservative libertarian. However, I am not the norm in my generation. According to recent polling, Barack Obama is defeating Mitt Romney among young voters by more than 20 percentage points. Republicans need to find a way to reverse this trend because once young voters become accustomed to voting Democratic, it becomes much harder to persuade them to vote GOP. I will try to outline some ideas on how the Republican Party can attract this constituency not just for 2012 but in the future.

1) Take Them Seriously

Some former College Republican leaders have complained to me how Republican Party officials don’t take their clubs and young people in general seriously. The attitude among many Republican strategists and politicos is that they see the College Republican clubs and the Young Republican organizations as nothing more than a source of free campaign labor. Contrast this attitude with the one that Democrats and the left have. They see young people as an important part of the progressive coalition. They go out of their way to give them leadership positions and pander to them as they would gays and racial minorities. Finally, they actually go out and ask for the votes of young people.

Obama makes an appeal to young voters

youth vote

Over the last couple weeks, it has become clear that President Barack Obama has a problem with young voters. That’s not to say that he won’t win them in the end, but perhaps not by the margin he carried them in 2008. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 59% of voters between 18-29 say they plan on voting in November:

President Obama obviously realizes this is a problem for his re-election bid. During a radio interview yesterday, Obama urged young voters to get behind his campaign:

President Obama dismissed suggestions that young voters who backed him in 2008 were less enthusiastic this election cycle, saying that he believed they wanted to “finish what we started.”

In an interview with local Washington D.C. station WJLA released Sunday, the president predicted young voters would again rally behind his presidency.

“2008, obviously your first time around in some ways it was lightning in a bottle. There were so many young people who just automatically got involved and, you know, we’ve gone through three and a half tough years. The economy is tough, especially for young people,” Obama acknowledged, according to a transcript of the interview.

President Obama is no longer “hip”

Is the President no longer the hip vote for young voters?  That’s what Elise Jordan at the National Review seems to think anyways.

President Obama’s got problems for 2012. Sure, he just hauled in a record $86 million in cash. But the fundraising success masks a very big issue: Obama has lost the youth vote — he just isn’t trendy any more. Which is good news for Republicans: President Untrendy gives us a better chance to win. As a generation of media-encouraged Obama idealists has turned economic realists, Republicans can appeal to this age bracket to take the prize next year.

Political campaigns have historically discounted the importance of the youth vote — for good reason, generally, as young voters have tended not to show up on Election Day. Obama has changed that dynamic, perhaps permanently. The Millennial generation, meaning 18-to-29-year-olds — whom I wrote about a few weeks back — mattered in the 2008 election because Obama’s campaign recognized and exploited them. His campaign team engaged them through ground-breaking use of social media and grassroots outreach. It worked. Youth voted for Obama by a margin of 2 to 1, and 3 million more new voters visited the polls than in 2004. The Millennials accounted for 18 percent of the vote, and it was the third consecutive presidential election with increased youth turnout.


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