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Meghan McCain Twitter photo: Republicans should be cheering

Meghan McCain Twitter photo, showing the former presidential candidate's daughter in a low-cut tank top, has drawn criticism. But she's a voice for young Republicans.

By / October 15, 2009



Meghan McCain and Twitter – let’s hope they don’t break up.

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Somewhere in Washington there are probably GOP strategists saying that to themselves right now. The Republican Party has a big problem with the youth vote, and Ms. McCain, daughter of former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, is at least trying to remedy that among her generation, the 20- and 30-somethings sometimes called the “Millennial Generation.”

But Ms. McCain’s efforts at times can be – um – awkward. Currently, she is threatening to quit the Twitter microblogging site, due to negative reaction to the post on her Twitter feed that showed a semi-revealing photo of herself.

“There is no question that her willingness and ability to use social network media, including the latest flap on her [pictures] on Twitter, makes her much more credible and accessible to the Millennial Generation,” says Morley Winograd, a fellow at the think tank NDN and co-author of “Millenial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics.”

She’s fairly popular on Twitter, with some 60,000 followers. As she herself has pointed out, that makes hers the 42th most popular Twitter feed in New York City.

Her mix of the personal and political on Twitter – and her column for the website the Daily Beast – sometimes draws criticism, particularly from liberals and the GOP’s right wing. But she claims that she is forging a new kind of moderate Republicanism that can appeal to a new generation.

It’s like she’s Olympia Snowe, only younger.

She is in favor of gay rights, for instance. She writes fondly of the late Democratic icon, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and his ability to find middle ground on issues.

At the same time, she complains that the media cut President Obama way too much slack for pretty speeches, as opposed to accomplishments.

“The Republican Party should be a place for all kinds of people, and I hope my fellow moderates come to see that the party is the place for them, too,” she wrote recently.

And here’s why GOP officials should hope the Twitter-quit threat is just a cry for attention – their party's approval rating among voters of her generation is not good. To put it mildly.

Meghan McCain herself says 81 percent of young voters identify themselves as Democrats. That’s an exaggeration – it’s more like 45 percent, according to exit polls from the 2008 election. But only 27 percent of those ages 18 to 29 identify themselves as Republican.

That’s the biggest gap between the parties since 1972.

The GOP should not take comfort in the old belief that voters become more conservative as they age, wrote Winston Group pollster Kristen Soltis in an analysis for Pollster.com published earlier this year.

The data show that is not true, she says. Younger voters in fact trended conservative in the Reagan era.

“If the Republican Party does not take immediate action to repair its brand, this generation may exhibit ... low levels of Republican identification for years to come,” wrote Ms. Soltis.

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Online overshare 101
If nothing else, Meghan McCain learned what not to do with social media. Click here to read about how not to do this to yourself.

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We aren't likely to put semi-revealing photos of ourselves on our Twitter feed. But you can follow us anyway, here.

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