The GOP Needs To Solve Its Millennial Problem
The election of Donald Trump as president has not helped the GOP among Millennials. Young voters are still holding the nation’s ruling party in low regard.
According to a recent poll by NBC News and the University of Chicago’s GenForward, only 20% of Millennials identify as Republican. In contrast, 34% of Millennials identify as Democrats.
Once you start factoring in “leans”, it’s even worse for Republicans. When you factor in those who just “lean” towards a particular party, here’s the partisan breakdown:
Believe it or not, the poll gets even more brutal for Republicans. Only 29% of Millennials believe the Republican Party cares about people like them. When you break it down among races, it’s even worse. Only 14% of blacks, 24% of Asian-Americans, 23% of Latinos, and 37% of whites believe the GOP cares about people like them.
GOP strategist Evan Siegfried has a few tweets about this poll that are interesting.
What are the issues Millennials care about? According to the poll:
Income inequality 9%
National debt 6%
Environment and climate change 6%
Economic growth 6%
Gun control 6%
Terrorism and homeland security 5%
Republicans actually do well on one of these issues….
That’s being unnecessarily harsh to Republicans because they have two of these issues in the bag. They do pretty well on economic growth, education, and terrorism. On everything else, they’re awful towards Millennials.
On immigration, all Republicans have is “build the wall.” Republicans generally ignore racism, the environment, and income inequality. Republicans pay the national debt little more than lip service. No wonder why Millennials aren’t buying what Republicans are selling.
Donald Trump is making things worse
The best ally Democrats have right now among Millennials is Donald Trump. Only 27% of Millennials approve of Donald Trump’s job performance. Only 20% of Millennials plan on voting for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections.
Let’s go through some reasons why Donald Trump is making things worse for Republicans. On Trump’s signature issue of immigration, 44% of Americans believe it is motivated by race. Trump’s “very fine people” comments after the Charlottesville clash between the alt-right and Antifa last year also do not help. As for the environment, Trump is obsessed with reviving the coal industry, which is the dirtiest source of energy. Finally, the national debt is once again exploding under Trump.
Donald Trump and his movement are making the GOP’s situation worse among Millennials. Millennials are also less likely to embrace Trumpism because they cannot relate to it. Trumpism in many ways is nostalgic for a vision of America that simply doesn’t click with Millennials.
Why Millennials are important
Why are Millennials, who were born between 1980 and 1996, so important? Because they are now the largest voting bloc by age in America.
From the Pew Research Center:
As of November 2016, an estimated 62 million Millennials (adults ages 20 to 35 in 2016) were voting-age U.S. citizens, surpassing the 57 million Generation X members (ages 36 to 51) in the nation’s electorate and moving closer in number to the 70 million Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Millennials comprised 27% of the voting-eligible population in 2016, while Boomers made up 31%.
Thankfully for Republicans, Millennials punch below their weight in voting. In 2016, 61% of the American electorate voted, but only 51% of Millennials voted. The GOP can’t count on Millennial non-participation forever.
How to change this
Allie Beth Stuckey aka the Conservative Millennial tweeted this:
She’s right but Republicans aren’t listening. Instead of likability, empathy, and relatability we have “facts don’t care about your feelings.” Instead of addressing the concerns of Millennials, many Republicans are more interested in “owning the libs.”
Instead of trying to “trigger” Millennials, Republicans should make the argument for free market-based policies that will help Millennials. The hardcore “social justice warriors” will never vote Republican, but most Millennials don’t fall into that category.
Republicans should explain how they will get the debt under control, fix the environment, help with income inequality, fix healthcare, mitigate racism, improve education, improve the quality of life, and grow the economy. It does not require changing the party’s principles. But it does require being creative with policy.
There are signs of hope
There are signs of hope that some Republicans are beginning to take Millennial issues seriously. The American Conservation Coalition is trying to promote market-based solutions to help the environment. Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) has a student loan forgiveness plan. Gun rights activists are working to promote gun rights to Millennials. But Republicans need to do more.
Failing to reach Millennials could mean that Republicans could become as irrelevant as they were between 1932–1952. Back then, Democrats controlled just about everything. If Republicans can’t make inroads among Millennials, America could easily become a one-party state again.
Also published on my Wordpress blog.