The GOP Must Address the Elephant in the Room: Gen Z
It’s time to address the elephant in the room. The GOP has a problem. It’s not Mitch McConnell. It’s not Adam Kinzinger. It’s not Liz Cheney. It’s not even Mitt Romney. It’s the youth vote. Yes, while all of those people are an embarrassment to the party, the GOP’s problem at hand that nobody wants to address is our lack of winning the youth vote.
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. “Why should we care about the youth vote?”. I’ll tell you why. The youth vote is the future of this country and if we want to ensure that the future is bright, we need to make sure that young people are a part of the party.
My generation is constantly looking for a cause. A cause to champion, a cause to rally around, a cause to put in their Instagram bios. If the GOP wants to have a conversation with Millennials and Generation Z, they have to understand this and be open to discussing hot topics pertinent to young voters. Yes, I’m talking about climate change, abortion, marriage, and other social issues. For too long, Republicans have walked the tightrope on topics significant to young people. It’s past time for the GOP to have a hard stance on relevant concerns to young voters. But don’t hear me say that we as Republicans need to compromise our conservative position on these issues. We do not need to be like the Democrats to win young voters. By saying that we need to have a dialogue with my generation if we ever want to win their vote does not mean we need to buckle our stance. We simply need to have a position laid out and stop playing this gray area game, letting the Left dominate all conversations on the issues because the Right is too afraid to discuss them.
So, what can the GOP do to win the youth vote? First, we have to be honest with ourselves. We need to acknowledge that the party has lost touch with my generation and that we must change that.
In the 2020 presidential election, for example, Joe Biden won the youth vote by a margin of nearly 20%. In the recent midterm elections, the majority of voters under the age of 41, classified as Millennials and Generation Z, voted for Democrats.
The 2022 midterms had the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades, with 27% of registered youth voters (ages 18-29). 20% turnout for youth voters has become a pattern in midterm elections since the 1990s. That pattern was broken in 2018 when over 30% of registered young voters showed up at the ballot box.
According to an exit poll conducted by Edison Research, 63% of young voters (ages 18-29) voted for Democrats for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022 and only 35% voted for Republicans. We saw almost identical margins in 2020 when 62% of young voters voted for Democrats and 32% voted for Republicans.
This isn’t anything crazy or unexpected. For decades, the Democrats have had a monopoly on the youth vote, but that monopoly has significantly expanded over the past few decades.
The problem for Republicans isn’t necessarily youth vote turnout, although that is always something that can be higher and we should continue to encourage, but it seems to be who young people are actually voting for when they get to the ballot box. If Republicans want to win future elections, we must find a way to connect with young voters and win their support.
I get it, it sounds cool to be a Democrat. They dangle emotions and free things in front of my generation and expect us to vote blue up and down the ticket, and for the most part, over the years, we have.
The GOP is known as the Grand Old Party. We’re widely categorized as the party of old white guys, but the party is changing.
In the House, every Republican seat flipped in 2020 was won by a woman or a minority, and the GOP continued that success when they took back the majority in the House in 2022. When the 118th Congress was sworn in, we saw an incredibly young and diverse Republican caucus.
Over in the Senate, Alabama Republicans elected Katie Britt to the U.S. Senate, making her the youngest elected female Republican Senator in U.S. history and the only mom in the Senate GOP with school-age children.
Over the past few years, we have seen a rise of conservatives standing up and speaking out, and in some cases even running for office, that are breaking the mold of the “stereotypical” Republican. Young people today are more diverse than ever before, and they want to see a party that reflects that diversity.
The Republican Party must demonstrate that they are in touch with the concerns and priorities of young voters, which means the GOP should focus on building a strong online presence and engaging with young voters through social media platforms.
Young people are increasingly turning to social media to get their news and information, and the party should be using these platforms to connect with them and build support. This means creating appealing content and using social media influencers to reach out to young voters. The GOP needs to be where my generation is, and they need to be speaking our language.
You would think this would be a top concern of the leadership at the RNC, but unfortunately, it’s not.
The DNC has a team of youth coordinators targeting my generation. In 2005, they assembled a “Youth Council” with members in every state and divided regions across the country with individual captains. In every election since 2005, according to Tisch College, Democrats have grown the gap between Republican youth voters by over 30%.
Sure, Conservatives have incredible organizations like Turning Point USA doing work across the country on college campuses to help educate and assemble young Republicans, but if it wasn’t for Charlie Kirk, none of this work would be done. The RNC shouldn’t be solely relying on Turning Point USA to organize youth voters - that’s their job!
It’s past time for the RNC to seek youth input. Think about it this way; when you have an older church that doesn’t necessarily put an emphasis on youth engagement and has a majority elderly congregation, the church eventually dies, because the congregation dies. The churches that flourish the most have a thriving youth group and involve church members of all ages, from newborns to senior citizens. That is what the RNC must do, or like elderly churches, it will die. The RNC must establish a youth advisory council to seek input from my generation and put together a platform for the future, not just for the next convention. If the RNC, and Republican Party as a whole, invests in my generation, it will pay off.
Winning the youth vote is essential for the GOP, and should be a main focus of the RNC, if it wants to be successful in future elections. I understand that Republicans are frustrated with recent election losses, but I firmly believe the youth vote is the area where the GOP is lacking, and focusing on it is the key to winning future elections.
I know I’m only 16 years old, but if the Republican Party continues to overlook my generation, it might not still be here when it’s time for my generation to take charge. It's not going to be easy breaking the Democrats’ monopoly, but winning the youth vote is necessary to ensure a bright future for the party.
Brilyn Hollyhand is a 16-year-old Conservative Commentator and the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Truth Gazette, a conservative news service fighting back against the Fake News Media!
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