There's good and bad news in college Republicans’ report to GOP leaders on the party’s shellacking in the 2012 election. Trying to understand how President Obama amassed a 5-million-vote margin over Mitt Romney among voters under 30, the young Republicans conducted a listening tour of their generation.
The good news for the party is that, as a voting bloc, millennials aren’t particularly in love with Democrats. The bad news is that the most recent crop of Republican candidates and the party itself are considered too extreme to be a credible alternative.
The GOP is held in such low regard by those born since 1980 and later that the party’s brand has become convenient political shorthand for “close-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned,” the report says. Optimistically titled “Grand Old Party of a Brand New Generation,” the report is full of blunt, noneuphemistic advice for GOP leaders.
Young people made up nearly 20 percent of the electorate in 2012 — too big a group for Republicans to disregard. The report also calls for a more robust outreach to racial minorities based on appeals to opportunity and fairness for all, and a less hostile orientation toward gays and lesbians.
The report says the GOP has become too identified with negative messaging, such as opposition to same-sex marriage and to Hispanic immigration.
“Our focus on taxation and business issues has left many 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,” it says. “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.”
Reaction to the report by the GOP establishment has been mixed. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked the report’s author why the Republican Party should care about the opinions of “a bunch of kids who don’t know anything.”
This kind of condescension will condemn the party to continue losing national elections. The fact that one of the nation’s most prominent conservative broadcasters felt no hesitation about insulting young conservatives about the need to repair their party’s image encapsulates the GOP dilemma perfectly.