Though the GOP has been reaching out to younger voters, millennials aged 18 to 29 are leaning more and more toward the Democrats.
Since 1996, the Republican Party has placed second to the Democrats among voters aged 18 to 29, and especially in the last two presidential elections with Barack Obama gaining 45.2 percent of the younger demographic’s vote in 2008 and 60 percent in 2012. As a result, numerous Republican Presidential hopefuls have made a more concerted effort to attract younger voters in this election cycle.
For example, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have held rallies on college campuses and former GOP hopeful Carly Fiorina appeared in a popular BuzzFeed video discussing workplace sexism (though ironically her record shows she supports policies that are deleterious to women’s health). Meanwhile, Ben Carson’s campaign aggressively plugged into social media. In the process, he acquired nearly five million Facebook fans, though some suspect that some of those Like-clicks may have been purchased. Given that Ben Carson has been caught in a number of lies, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.
Yet despite all the GOP’s best efforts, millennials generally tend to hold more liberal values than any other age group, regardless of which political affiliation they register. A Pew Research study published in April 2015 found that 51 percent of millennials tend to side with the Democrats while only 35 percent lean Republican. As a result, younger and more socially liberal Republicans often feel ideologically disconnected from the elders of their party and feel that their opinions are dismissed, particularly when it comes to issues like gay rights, climate change and drug policy reform.
The more liberal values among millennials could also have something to do with the fact that since the Reagan years, that same generation has had to contend with the cutting of government funding for college education, along with more demanding job requirements, stagnating wages, a skyrocketing cost of living and decimated job security. Furthermore, the exponential growth and increasing widespread use of social media have coincided with a heightened sensitivity in regard to the treatment of demographics that have been historically more vulnerable to societal oppression, namely women, non-whites, and members of the LGBT community, along with new scientific discoveries.
With that in mind, as long as the older conservatives continue to behave as though human history stands still and especially to extents that are violent, inflammatory or both, the Republican Party will continue to eat itself as it spirals down the drain of its own creation.
A version of this was previously published on DailyKos.com.
Featured image: cc 2010 Bailey Weaver via Flickr.