Sunday, June 21, 2009

GOP nearing brink of generation gap - JSOnline

GOP nearing brink of generation gap - JSOnline

This is a good treatment of the partisan generation gap, including comment from Wisconsin's Rep. Paul Ryan.

What factors make it difficult for Republicans to appeal to 18-30 year olds?

Does Obama's success with that group mean that a generation has now been permanently won over to the Democratic party or can this change? FYI: Ronald Reagan won the youth vote very strongly. Young voters don't always go to the Dem or liberal side-- historically they go with whichever party is ascendent at the time. Does then mean the current pessimism about Republican chances with the young is overstated?


  1. I cannot speak for my entire generation, but it seems that the ideals valued by 18-30 year olds align much more closely with the Democratic Party than with the GOP. When it comes to social issues, the Republicans really seem to clash with under-30 crowd, especially regarding gay marriage and reproductive rights.

    What's the old quote - "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."

    -Eric Maloney

  2. I have many friends (who fall into the 18-30 age group) who are aligned with the Republican Party. They tend to find themselves conservative mostly in the issue areas dealing with spending & money. This seems to be the main approach my Representative's office is taking currently as well-appealing to the younger generations by talking about how much money they and their future kids will be paying back after all the deficit spending. This is one strategy the Republican Party could use in order to gain more of a foothold with the younger generations.

  3. While I agree on what Mallory said, I think that many people in this age group are still concerned deeply with social issues. It is true that no one wants to have debts to pay, many when they are young are more concerned with issues of equal rights. In an earlier post, I spoke of Senator McCain's daughter who stressed that the GOP needs to be more socially liberal and shy away from things such as abstinence only education. I agree with this completely and I think that a move in this direction could be a big step for the GOP.

    - Luke D

  4. I think the most obvious cause for this shift, and it is touched on a bit in the article, is the increasingly secular manner in which children are being raised in this country. How many college students regularly practice their faith at a religious institution? Perhaps this is just from my own experience, but since I have been in college I have gone from an every Sunday Church goer, to very sparse visits throughout the year with maybe only 1 or 2 visits being on a regular weekend and in Madison. On a different note, when you examine certain trends and normalizations that are occurring in our society at this point in time you can see a few possible causes for this ideological shift. With all the rapid technological changes and increased exposure to all different types of media, how can the party of the "status quo," as it is often referred, adapt itself to a society in which that "status quo," is rapidly evolving. I still don't fully understand why people choose to align themselves solely to one party in the first place, because in my estimation you have thus forfeited your right to choice, and this is not the purpose of the party system. I will step off of my soapbox now and conclude by saying that the conservatives should have plenty of options with which to appeal to the younger audience, but many of these options are dependent upon the success (or lack thereof) the Obama administration. I believe that the pessimism is indeed overstated, and just as the youth were quickly taken up by the Obama campaign, they can just as quickly be swayed in the opposite direction depending on what events are transpiring and which issues rise to the forefront of public interest.

  5. As mentioned above, I too agree that currently, from my experience, the ideals of the 18-30year voter range mor closely align with the Democratic party. I believe that, again, in my opinion, my generation is less concerned with party labels and more concerned with how our constituent concerns are being addressed. I think that there is something to be said about the above comments regarding financial issues, such as spending, and what Mallory suggested about her friends and the reasons why they classify themselves as more conservative. However, I agree more strongly with one of the above comments as well regarding our generation's concern with equal rights. I think that our generation has "tried to" bridge the gap, again this is my opinion, between different ethnic/racial/religious backgrounds. I think that we as a generation are trying to overcome the ideas that may have in the past placed any group, whether concerning gender/race/etc..., above the other, and these concerns of moving into a more "equal" society has been more addressed by the Democratic party. These issues/stances when electing officials also tend to stand at the forefront of many campaigns. For example, in the last presidential election when the two front-runners for the Democratic party were both a female and an African American man, two groups typically under-represented in the past in elected offices at this high level. Is the GOP lost forever? No. But I think that with the current 18-30 year-olds of this generation, it is inevitable that the party will have to re-vamp its policies, and officials for that matter, in order to attract this up-and-coming generation.

  6. I agree more with Mallory that fiscal issues are the focus of Americans both young and old, even more so than social issues. I feel after the 2004 and 2006 elections, social issues have fallen a bit to the side; steam cell research funding bans have been repelled, and gay marriage seems to be an issue that the states are going to deal with to name two of the largest. As we slip deeper into this recession, the GOP should take advantage of this shift in focus towards financial matters and create talking points about the cost of some of these big government programs, both at the state and federal levels, that are causing massive tax increases in some areas. Wisconsin is near passing a budget that includes an additional $5 billion worth of taxes. Representatives, like my boss, are taking advantage of this and hope to gain some confidence and support back for the GOP from younger voters who seem concerned about this issue as they head into the workforce. Paul Ryan in the article reiterates this point by stating that he and the party need to show the public the bright side of a lower spending, smaller government.

    If the GOP has so many taking points in regards to higher taxes and huge deficits, why are they still not gaining any ground? I feel that American society overall has shifted to the Left, and the GOP is having a tough time adjusting to that. They have to abandon their talking points on many of their key issues and start new. The article even notes that voters are less skeptical of big government and programs. People EXPECT more out of their government in the form of universal health care, etc. Somehow, the GOP needs to refocus, perhaps beginning with the monetary issues, and reform their platform to appeal more to the younger generation. I feel a more moderate approach on many issues would do the party well. Even a quasi-Liberatarian view may prove helpful to keeping the party afloat.

    One final note in regards to this article is ethnic groups and how they will continue to vote in the future. It is not impossible for the GOP to capture votes from groups such as Latinos. George W. Bush and Karl Rove did it to some extent in 2004 appealing to the Latino population with their views on gay marriage and other hot button social issues. As I stated earlier, I think that those issues have somewhat disappeared into the background, but this nevertheless shows that the GOP is able to capture these votes. A difference stance on immigration or workers rights, or even a illegal immigrant's ability to start a small business may give the party the boost they need with this voting bloc.

  7. I have quite a few friends who are republicans, but when I ask them why they say because their parents are or because they don't support socialism. I feel like the problem here is the Republicans aren't doing a good job at informing the youth what their ideaological beliefs are. My friends just think about money and their parents socioeconomic standing, but they don't understand that there's a lot more to it than money. As for me, I just feel like the republicans aren't keeping up with the times. It isn't 1776 anymore, we have developed in all aspects of life. We need universal health care. The rest of the world laughs at us because we claim we are such a powerful and rich country but we can't even provide health care for our citizens. Preaching abstinance isn't working, clearly, because kids are still participating in sexual activity before marriage, and that's just a fact. The republicans need to realize that it's time to adapt, it's time to just see the people's needs instead of trying to cling for dear life to their founding beliefs. I agree that the age group 18-30 is very diverse. Many people go to some sort of higher education institution and they're introduced to so many different groups of people. College students are like sponges, they soak up everything around them and become aware of the many problems facing our country and the rest of the world that they may not have been aware of before. Suddenly it's not just money anymore, but it's poverty, homosexuality, ethnicity, etc, all becoming issues that they never really gave much thought to before. I lean to the left because I don't feel like the republicans listen to what I need, and I don't have much in common with them. I need a party that's more for the working class, and that's more secular. I hope the republicans can start working hard to catch up with the times, and start working with democrats instead of against them all the time.

  8. The current pessimism about the Republican chances of winning over younger voters, in my opinion, is overstated. However if the GOP does not take signs such as rising secularism into serious consideration, they are going to be in trouble. Historically, political leanings are similar to a swinging pendulum. During the Great Depression, people swayed to the left under FDR. Similarly, the environment of the 80s led people to align with the Republicans. It really is about who can appeal toward the middle.

    In today's day and age, the Democrats are doing a better job of convincing people that their policies will bring about better outcomes. This is how the majority of people vote, who they believe will make the situation better. For young people right now this means finding us jobs, eliminating discrimination, etc. We are interested in the here and now. That is why the GOP is going to find in difficult to appeal to us with the threat of distant debt. They need to convince us (as the article states) "that conservative policies would result in better outcomes as well as more individual choice." I do not believe the Obama has us permanently won over, but right now he is addressing what we care about and taking action.

    To bring this down to the state level, I had the privilege of sitting in on a portion of Senate session regarding the budget. A member of the Republican party spoke and basically listed off everything that was wrong with the budget. Then a Democratic Senator stood up and said, "But what has your party brought to the table, what answers do you have to fix these problems?" I think this scenario is very symbolic to how our generation sees the Republican party right now. Republican figures like Rush Limbough tend to criticize the administration, but at least personally, I don't hear many suggestions coming from that side of the aisle.

    We are in the age of the Ipod,, Travelocity. We do demand choices in all areas of our life. Republican just haven't given us any better choices.

    -Julie Benkoske

  9. I think the biggest obstacle that the GOP faces in gaining youth support is that they are known for conservative politics. In an age where there are many different lifestyles and cultures we are taught to be accepting. I think that overall conservative politics seems very black and white- no taxes, pro-life, same-sex marriage. In a world where things are changing and exceptions are constantly made to try and be accepting; there are not tons of people open to seeing a conservative's point of view. Further then that, republicans were popular during the time of our parents, making it seem too old and mature for our "young, hip generation." GOP politics, unless they freshen up their image and come up with a charismatic presidential nominee that can relate to the younger generations and see us as the concerned voters trying to build a good future, till then I think it will be hard for them to come into power.

    Obama has united a nation. He has been honest and has had remarkable transparency with how he conducts his politics. After the Bush administration where there was 0 transparency and very conservative politics; and dramatic liberal change was exactly what everyone needed. Recently I was in the Newseum, in Washington DC, and the exhibit from Obama's inauguration and campaign people were united; no one was left out of politics because they were too conservative or liberal, too old or too young. I think the world now is all about making exceptions and changing, so unless the GOP changes (and not with a ridiculous choice like Sarah Palin) I think it will be hard for a Republican candidate to win over the youth of our country.
    -Lauren C.

  10. I agree with the article and previous posts that it is many of the social issues raised today and the GOP's approach to them that makes it difficult for it to appeal to the younger generation. However, I do not think that Obama's success with them means that a generation has been permanently won over and that the GOP is heading into an "ice age." Obama, and the Democratic party as a whole, was given the gift of a country that was tired of the Republican administration that had been in charge for the last 8 years and had received the lowest presidential approval ratings ever. Americans were looking for drastic changes. Also, Obama's campaign took advantage of the fact that we live in an " society" where everything is at our fingertips and there are more ways to communicate than ever and launched a revolutionary campaign that used new forms of technology and communication, such as YouTube and Facebook, that the youth generation are really familiar with. Obama also had a large band of celebrities behind him that helped with his appeal to younger generations and the creation of the "Yes We Can" music video was genius. His campaign also took advantage of the fact that here was a guy who was young, active, and a fresh face in politics...running against a man who was 72 at the time of the election. Kingdon's essay "Politicians' Beliefs About Voters" showed that winning campaigns believe that voters heavily consider personal characteristics of candidates, and Obama's campaign definitely recognized this and ran with it. I agree with Mallory and Stephen D. in that the younger generation and the media is more focused on economic than social issues at the moment. With are country facing unprecedented levels of debt and a tough job market, the youth generation is concerned with saving, employment, and how well-off they will be. The GOP can work to redeem itself by playing up and tackling these issues with their lower spending and "pro-market" approach, and marketing its solutions in a way that is more youth-friendly and takes better advantage of today's advancements in technology and communication. --- Leslie W.

  11. I would also comment on how innefficient GOP has been over the past eight years. There has been a steady decline in support, which was in my opinion heavily fueled by war. IRAN/Q, whatever right? I agree with Stephen D. in that the GOP needs to refocus and become stable again.
    Some are swayed by the media and their necessity to relish in Obama v. McCain. The real thing was that Obama and his administration continued to effectively address issues while being confident in their intent and purpose; McCain tried to appeal as a flashy guy, hip and spunky. It is not for the GOP ot walk the runway, they need policies and WISDOM at this moment.
    To be fair, all of politics has been on the downside for quite q while. Even witht he dems in control of the Wisconsin House, spending is carzy! Each party has a determined approach towards "showing" victory, authority and the like through spending and acquiring material costs. At least toa significant minor degree.
    Baby boomers are heavily involved in change, while some of those in power still live amidst the older ways, when strong conservatism wasn't againstg the grain of society. We have evolved as a people into more of a oneness, increased in size and potential. Politics should revolve around ideas like this.


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