Grand Old Pats on the Back

The College Republican National Committee (CRNC), an umbrella organization that represents a quarter million young Republicans on nearly two thousand college campuses across America, has released a new study entitled “Grand Old Party For a New Generation.” It deals with the question of what the GOP needs to do to more effectively appeal to young people, a topic that has gotten much attention from party leaders following Mitt Romney’s dismal performance among 18-29 year-olds.

The main conclusion of the report is that time-honored conservative arguments about the importance of promoting entrepreneurship, lowering taxes, and reducing regulations on small businesses really do resonate with younger voters. The problem is that young voters’ enthusiasm for these ideas is dampened by the perception that today’s Republicans are skilled at offering paeans to wealth and professional success, but not at explaining how they intend to help college graduates find jobs or pay off student loans. The authors worry that the GOP has become “the party that will pat you on your back when you make it but won’t offer you a hand to help you get there.”

CRNC Chairwoman Alex Smith and pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson were interviewed Tuesday evening by Bill O’Reilly, who seemed dismissive of the need for Republicans to reach out to “kids who don’t know anything” – or indeed to think seriously at all about the notion that the party’s demographic challenges pose a grave threat to its future electoral prospects.

But if you can look past O’Reilly’s impatient interruptions and simplistic counter-proposals (“You know what it comes down to, ladies? A charismatic candidate who can reach younger people and use words they understand”), the exchange is certainly edifying. Soltis Anderson makes an interesting point about the “decoupling” of the culture war issues among Millennials and Smith attempts to debunk the idea that young voters broke for Obama because he was perceived as “cooler” than Romney.

You can watch the segment below.

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