“Are younger voters up for grabs?” asks The Wall Street Journal in a recent piece about the millennial generation’s growing disillusionment with government.
The answer, provided by a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, is “yes,” but where they’ll turn is unclear.
It would be a stretch to say millennials are warming to the GOP. Just a quarter of those under 35 said they had positive feelings toward the Republican Party in the last Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which came out two weeks ago.
At the same time, millennials aren’t exactly in love with the Democratic Party. Soon after Mr. Obama took office in 2009, nearly half looked favorably on the Democrats. That number has since slipped to 36%.
Younger voters have also soured on Mr. Obama. In the most recent Journal poll, just over half disapproved both of his presidency and his handling of the economy, up sharply from the 38% who disapproved of his job performance two years ago.
The good news is that America’s youth population is slowly realizing that government is more often a problem than a solution, and that promises of hope and change (close Gitmo, end wars, create new jobs for graduates) most always amount to a steaming pile of bullshit.
The bad news is that Democrats traditionally enjoy strong youth support, and, as we’ve recently witnessed with the introduction of the GOP hipster, the GOP just isn’t that good at attracting young voters. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton, who will almost certainly be the Democratic pick if she runs, has already started courting the youth vote.
Thanks to the Republican establishment, there’s more bad news for conservative voters who believe the youth vote could drive a right-of-center candidate to Presidential victory in 2016.
While Clinton has her party’s support in trying to sway young Americans, the GOP has already begun working to marginalize potential youth-friendly candidates like Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
Paul’s anti-surveillance and individual liberty message, widely popular among young Americans, has been derided by more than a few of his Republican colleagues. And the GOP mainstream’s refusal to move away from moral pandering and hawkish foreign policy has led to establishment attacks on the very libertarian-leaning ideals behind Paul’s youth appeal.
Republicans have found themselves at this crossroads before: Truly embrace small government, personal-liberty policies; or help another Democrat into the Oval Office. And based on the party’s past, if the 2016 election ends up hinging on the youth vote, prepare yourself once again to utter the words “President Clinton.”