In New Hampshire, Rick Santorum Wrongly Jeered by Millennial Voters


Yesterday, Rick Santorum was scheduled to be at events all over New Hampshire, and in the course of campaigning he found out how different the Northeastern state is from conservative Iowa. At one event, students from the College Convention of 2012 booed him as he compared gay marriage to polygamy, insinuating that they were equally undesirable.

The attitudes of these college students are not surprising – approval for homosexuality rises the younger the demographic – but their behavior is disrespectful and misguided. College students in New Hampshire would be better served by peers who focused on taking advantage of their presence in a battleground state to advance policies that young people and the nation need.

Look at Iowa. Blogs and pundits were optimistic about Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) chances right up until the caucuses, citing the importance of young people to his campaign. To quote one example at random, this site predicted "Paul can win Iowa if young voters and independents turn out.” It didn't happen though, and interestingly, Santorum did better than Romney among young voters.

New Hampshire will be even less about young people. The state is, on average, slightly older than Iowa and in general, people under 30 in New Hampshire turn out to vote less than those in Iowa. Also, the state's Republican politicians seem to take a dim view of its young population, with the speaker of the New Hampshire House claiming that young people only vote for Democrats because of their lack of life experience. All of this means that young people are at a disadvantage in getting their voice heard in a Republican primary in the granite state.

Perhaps this is all the more reason that students should be shouting at Republican candidates. Maybe this is an understandable reaction to the fact that they are poorly represented by one of the most important early primaries. 

However, I think the best use of the energy of young people who disagree with Santorum is not to shout at him at events sponsored for their benefit. A better plan would be to get friends to participate in the election (young people have a low turnout rate in New Hampshire), volunteer for the campaign that they find to be persuasive, and focus on boosting either Romney or Paul, both of whom are much less hostile to homosexuality.

Yelling at Santorum in a state where social conservatives are already in short supply sends a message of ungratefulness. Debates are organized at colleges in the hopes of giving young people a way to participate, and this event tried to pursue that goal as well. The best response is to be respectful and take advantage of the opportunity. These people should just vote against Santorum; that would send a louder message.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Jordan Wolf

My training is partially in philosophy and I'm interested in democratic theory, but more practically, I like thinking about media sophistication, data in politics, and ways to curb partisanship.

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