How can GOP steal young voters from Obama? Jobs.
In a shift, Republicans at their national convention are showcasing young voters. They acknowledge that President Obama has the cool factor. But they think they can woo young voters – many of whom are out of work – with jobs.
In Pictures The Republican Convention 2012
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The youngest delegate here, the high school senior turns 18 in just over two weeks. And he's not buying the idea that his party has an image problem among young voters.
"Young people want the government that gives them ... freedom and independence," says Evan. "The momentum is definitely on our side."
The Republican Party is doing all it can to showcase young voters at the convention, and – in marked contrast to 2008 – to reach out to them. But it sometimes struggles to achieve the hipness of the Democratic Party – featuring songs like "My Girl" and "Shout" at the convention doesn't do much to dispel the stereotype of the GOP as a party of old white guys – and faces challenges among a generation that tends to see GOP views on social issues as out of touch.
"If they show a sea of older white people [at the convention], young people are pretty sensitive to that," says Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. "It's a turnoff."
Still, Mr. Levine notes that the party can only improve from its showing with young people in 2008, when John McCain set a record for the lowest share of youth vote received by a Republican candidate. Fewer than a third of voters aged 29 and under voted for McCain, compared with 66 percent for President Obama. In three states – Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina – it was young people who put Obama over the edge and allowed him to win the state.
In a July poll of 18-to-29 year olds that CIRCLE conducted, young people supported Obama over Mitt Romney 55 percent to 42 percent – but if Romney actually succeeds in getting 42 percent of the young vote, notes Levine, it "would be a big improvement."
To do so, he needs to appeal both to socially conservative young people as well as those who are independent and willing to overlook social issues because they favor Romney on economic ones.
It's that last group that Republicans are banking on making on making inroads with.