Following a predictable win in Arizona, Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum to also win the Michigan primary. But despite the Romney victories, young Republican and independent voters have come to realize the frustrating lack of solutions offered to millennial problems.
The Republican candidates should integrate more millennial issues — including jobs, education, and increasing income disparity — into their debates and campaigns to attract younger voters. Currently, they fail at doing this.
Take Arizona, for example. Although all the candidates pledged to cut federal spending right off the bat, none of them could provide concrete details on how the federal government would curb it. Income inequality — the root problem millennials want an answer to — was treaded upon with the utmost caution, with the only close mention coming from Santorum when he accused Romney of using “Occupy Wall Street lingo” when describing taxpayers. As per the previous debates, views on education were far from effective, with no one addressing rising college costs. Yet the domineering topics at the debate seemed to be social issues like contraception and religion that had less to do with young voters.
Millennials don’t care about social conservatism. With our generation assimilating record levels of debt, all while breaking unemployment records, the “educated and jobless” generation just wants someone with feasible solutions to their economic problems.
In 2008, millennials made up 17% of the electorate. Yet, no one can argue how pivotal the collective millennial vote was to Obama’s election. Millennials leaning toward the libertarian message have also collectively kept Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) relevant. Now that some disillusioned millennials have come to grow dissatisfied with the broken promise of change this year, a lot of both left and right-leaning young people are becoming independent. It is these individuals that the GOP needs to rally, if it wants to adapt itself and stay relevant.
The GOP needs millennials more than ever. Come 2016, this generation will consist of one-third of the voting electorate. According to the Center for American Progress, “between now and 2018, the number of millennials of voting age will increase by about four and a half million a year, and millennial eligible voters will increase by about 4 million a year. In 2020 — the first presidential election where all millennials will have reached voting age — this generation will be 103 million strong, of which about 90 million will be eligible voters. Those 90 million millennial eligible voters will represent just under 40% of America’s eligible voters.”
Come the 2012 election season, the Republican nominee ought to be as deft as Obama in connecting with millennials through the use of social media, exposing existing millennial problems, and proposing innovative solutions. The difference between doing so and remaining passive might just tip the balance in November.
Photo Credit: Alyssa L. Miller