There is good news for the Republican Party about millennial voters: they won’t be voting. A survey done by Harstad Strategic Research for the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America on millennial voters provides important insight into voting preferences for 18-31 year olds. Although the survey was done by a Democratic polling firm, the results still send an important message to the Republican Party.
Lucky for the red team, millennial voters will likely be staying home in 2014. Only 28% of the survey’s respondents stated they will definitely vote in 2014. This should be worrisome to the Democratic Party. Obama’s ability to mobilize and woo young voters in 2008 and 2012 significantly helped his prospects at the polls. Without this bloc, the already existent Republican edge in midterm elections grows stronger.
The good news ends there. This survey (along with others) shows that once these voters mobilize, especially for the 2016 election, they will vote progressive, liberal, and Democratic. Rather than counting on low turnout, the Republican Party will be better off taking lessons from this survey and altering their message to young voters.
To be clear, the party does not need to change its views or stances on issues, it just needs to change the way it communicates with millennials. Words like ‘patriotism’ and ‘competition’ will no longer work. The party can emphasize its free market policies and limited government, but it has to appeal to the ethos of the voter by proving to him or her that our policies bring about ‘opportunity’ and equality’.
As of now, young people are convinced the government needs to be involved in their lives. The Republican Party can and must convince them otherwise, but to do so, they have to appeal to the right emotions and values. The party is better off limiting talk on Obamacare and focusing on affordable college and job openings. More so, it is important to spend time emphasizing that conservative policies help the poor and marginalized. By connecting conservative policies to the values young people find most important, the Republican Party can begin to make gains with the millennial generation.
The survey by Harstad Strategic Research is filled with liberal bias, but that does not mean conservatives should immediately write it off. The party should be relieved young people are staying home in 2014 because they have not done enough to earn their vote. By appealing to values that matter to millennials, Republicans can shape their message in a better way. Our policies create the results that young people want to see; it’s time to work harder to tell them that.