In the past two presidential elections, President Barack Obama handsomely won the youth vote. But while young people overwhelming supported Obama – a progressive Democrat – in the last presidential election, a new study shows that this generation may not be as committed to liberal values as it would appear.
Resurgent Republic, a non-profit organization that does public opinion research, held four focus groups in two urban cities in traditional swing states to gather information from young, moderate voters on their feelings about the current state of the government. Resurgent found that while the under 40s found President Obama personable, which heavily contributed to their vote, they weren’t so hot or flat out confused about the effects of his polices.
For instance, Resurgent found that the young people agreed with Republicans “that Washington spends too much and that the problem is not that taxes are too low. Meanwhile “[they] are generally fine with increasing taxes on the wealthy (and nearly all mentioned their own payroll taxes increasing), but didn’t draw a strong connection between increasing taxes and slowing economic growth.”
The study found that the contradiction in young voters’ political perspectives can be seen in their perception of Democrats and Republicans. Young voters find Democrats easier to relate to and like them for their ideas on education and social programs. However, they accuse Democrats of being inefficient and wasteful. Republicans, they say, are rigid and outdated, but have the right ideas on how to turn the economy around.
One voter Resurgent Republic spoke to summed the perspective up perfectly: “Thumbs down for Democrats. I think it’s good in the way they are forward thinking about the environment and health care and a lot of the social issues, but then it comes back to the philosophy in kids sports where everyone gets a trophy. It doesn’t work and has led to sense of entitlement for a whole generation and someone has to lose. They don’t keep that kind of perspective. By trying to even the playing field, all we are doing is making things worse.”
Young voters want liberal programs and conservative economics. According to Resurgent Republic, “They need to hear how conservative proposals such as a balanced budget go beyond reducing red ink, and promote greater opportunity and upward mobility.” They also want likable candidates who they feel they can relate to. As young voters repeatedly told Red Alert Politics after the presidential election, they didn’t vote for Romney because they just flat out didn’t like or trust him.
Even though the Republican Party got beat badly the last two presidential elections, it seems that all hope for the party is not lost. The party really need only repackage it’s message and change its messengers.