Friday, November 28, 2008

How The GOP Got Left Behind

young voters

Last week at the National Press Club, Eric Greenberg, author of Generation We , sponsored a panel on the youth vote and the 2008 election.

The panel featured a group of political leaders and analysts including Ruy Teixeira of the Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress, who presented new findings on the youth vote this election cycle; Alexandra Acker, executive director of Young Democrats of America; Michael Moschella, director of outreach at the Truman National Security Project; and Kat Barr, political outreach director at Rock the Vote. The panel was moderated by Ben Adler, who covers the youth vote for Politico.

The National Journal Online reported on the panel in a story last Friday addressing the now fully recognized power that young voters have:

President-elect Barack Obama wouldn't have that new title if not for voters in their teens and twenties, according to those who study youth voting patterns. More than just voting for him 2-to-1 over John McCain, young people -- part of the so-called millennial generation -- were the "sales force" that marketed Obama to the nation, said Eric Greenberg...

The piece also reported numbers that we know already. Young voters turned out in huge numbers and predominantly for Obama. While other voters increased in participation, young voters increased even more creating a larger than expected share of the overall vote.

Republicans see this as a point of concern:

David All, founder of the David All Group, a conservative Web agency, says that millennials are costing the GOP races up and down the ticket, but that the party has not even begun to think about how to win this group back: "I kind of feel like Republicans are pointing at the squirrel that's been run over by the car 25 times and they keep saying, 'Look, it's dead.'" . . . But the GOP needs both a new message and a new medium, "We don't need 50-year-old men text-messaging people," All said. "We need 20-year-old kids text-messaging other 20-year-old kids and teaching others how to do it.

The main problem for the GOP?

Another thing that might be keeping GOP operatives awake at night: Millennials may continue to grow as a share of the total voting population, particularly for the next three presidential elections.

Full disclosure: I'm pretty progressive, but when it comes to outreach to young voters I believe the more the better. While, I'd prefer my generation continue its power for the likes of candidates that push policies akin to our current trends, there must continue to be solid discourse among Millennial voters to ensure all sides are being considered.

Millennials tend to be more independent according to previously published Gen-We research and, according to a USA Today report, they are more educated. Showing them both sides of the political spectrum allowing them to make up their minds is a must. As they begin to grow in size if their ideals still don't match with the GOP, I hope conservative party members will consider a strategic realignment of their values, otherwise they will continue to suffer the electoral consequences.


If you haven't seen the video produced by Generation We its worth the watch:

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