It's Complicated: Millennials and the GOP

It’s the question President Obama’s campaign answered correctly, and arguably one of the most important lessons Republicans can learn from. After all, according to an analysis from the post-presidential election of 2012: “Mitt Romney would have cruised to the White House had he managed to split the youth vote with Barack Obama.”

Since I am part of the ” Millennials” generation I can argue confidentially we’ve remained an enigma to the GOP – the proof is in the lack of votes from Millennials for Republican nominees.

The past eight years, the Democratic Party and President Obama have dominated Millennial popularity, but there’s ‘hope for change’ (pun intended) for Republicans. In the 2014 midterm elections, we witnessed a changed in behavior of Millennial voters, and Republicans made strides reducing the gap. A week leading up to the midterm elections, a poll conducted by the Harvard Institute surveyed showed Millennials were less likely to support the Democratic party: “In a major shift from just four years ago, Millennials who say they are likely to vote next week now lean slightly toward the Republicans and could be a deciding factor in races across the country well into the future…” Moreover the study revealed 51 percent of Millennials considered most likely to vote would rather see a Republican Congress — 4 points higher than those who prefer Democrats.

The midterm election polling is encouraging, but the Republican Party is still faced with a disconnect with the growing generation of voters. Today, about half of Millennials (50%) are Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, while just 34% affiliate with or lean to the GOP (Pew Research). The appeal of Democrats to younger generations will be difficult for the GOP to repeal, but there’s an unprecedented opportunity for the Republican Party to swing young voters, if issues important to Millennials are properly discussed.

In addition to the high unemployment rate, increased cost of college tuition, and lack of distrust in government, polling indicates Millennials have fallen out of love with Obama: About half of Millennials say the president has failed to change the way Washington works, which had been the central promise of his candidacy. Of those who say this, three-in-ten blame Obama himself, while more than half blame his political opponents and special interests.

Every candidate and political campaign remains aware of the value each and every voter possesses, but with the Millennials surpassing the Baby Boomer generation before us, it would be wise to give special consideration to this ever-growing demographic.