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Posted by on Jul 28, 2007 in Politics | 23 comments

Republican Party May Face Serious Youth Vote Gap

A new survey indicates the Republican Party is now facing a major long-term problem: there is an increasing gap between its policies and youth.

A new Democracy Corps/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey finds young people “profoundly alienated from the Republican party and its perceived values.”

Key finding: “Young people react with hostility to the Republicans on almost every measure and Republicans and younger voters disagree on almost every major issue of the day.”

In the presidential race, “both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lead Rudy Giuliani — the most acceptable of the Republican offerings among youth — by significant margins. The President’s standing is substantially worse, to the degree that is possible, than we find in the broader electorate. Moreover, the disconnect we see between the Republicans and our nation’s youth runs so deep, that it likely will not only outlive the Bush administration, but potentially haunt the Republicans for many years to come.”

This echoes a poll last month that showed that liberals are now gaining among young people.

This latest study should be be troubling news for the GOP, indeed. From the standpoint of Republicans, some will suggest this means the party needs greater outreach, more convincing explanations to young voters about its positions, and more dynamic young candidates.

John McCain was highly popular among young people in 2000 but that was when he wasn’t trying to win over Bush supporters, the party’s establishment and social conservatives. But his shift in campaign for 2008 basically made him one more Republican candidate — and he can never be confused with being a young person.

Political parties have a feel and when Ronald Reagan took over, the Dems just felt old, divided and tired to many voters. Ditto (excuse the word) when Bill Clinton won the Presidency after George Bush (41) gave a preview of the kind of popularity ratings that his son would later enjoy in the Oval Office.

If this is a trend that continues — and it’s hard to see how it won’t given the unpopularity of the Iraq war (I know of one 16 year old who said he’d be interested in serving in the military “but not while George Bush is President”), headlines about an executive branch power grab, the controversy over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ at-odds-with-others testimony — the GOP should be concerned. All the more reason for thoughtful people within that party to move heaven and earth to “clean house” within their party and get some new people into key positions — an preferably some of them young people.

And that brings into question the wild card.

Rep. Ron Paul is quite popular with some young voters. His appeal, as seen in this video, is he’s not talking the usual party talking points. Will he defy the talking heads and conventional wisdom and do better in the primaries that many expect? Are there enough Republican Party members who think his way to make it happen?

But the primaries are short-term. What last month’s poll and this study suggest is that (a) in numbers Republicans could start seriously decreasing and (b) some of what they advocate will be outside of the political conventional wisdom as the inevitable evolution begins — an old world and an old culture steadily dies off, replaced by a new one. If these indications prove correct, time may not be on the GOP’s side.

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