MANCHESTER, NH - NOVEMBER 6: A young girl looks out from a voting booth as her mother casts her ballot at the Bishop Leo O'Neil Youth Center on November 6, 2012 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The swing state of New Hampshire is recognised to be a hotly contested battleground that offers 4 electoral votes, as recent polls predict that the race between U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney remains tight. Credit: Getty Images
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Hillary Clinton lost the youth vote in 2007 but Republicans have been losing out for almost two decades.
Hillary Clinton is running for president.
“Oh, Hill No!”
This is the battle cry coming from many millennials who are tired of entrenched, entitled politicians thinking they are the natural heirs to the presidency.
Millennials have been let down by Democrats over the past seven years and are not looking for a repeat of the same old Washington, D.C. agenda. President Barack Obama gave millennials “hope” then stripped it away as he and his administration continued the same corrupt and secretive practices of the past.
Will Youth Vote Be There for Obama in 2012 as 2008? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
If the “hope and change” dude wasn’t able to change Washington, D.C., then how will a member of the permanent political class, like Hillary Clinton, be able to change it?
Although, just because millennials are not thrilled with another Clinton presidency this doesn’t mean Republicans have the youth vote sealed. In fact, they are far from it.
It will take a lot to change millennials perception of the “party of no.” But it is possible, especially with younger and more constitutionally strict candidates like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
But, even with a few fresh faces, the fact is that Republicans are and will continue to struggle with millennials due to their poor messaging capabilities and lack luster efforts in reaching out to this distinct generation.
Over the past couple decades the Republican Party has become the "party of no," a phrase coined by Democrats and sealed by the mainstream media. This is the number one problem with the current Republican Party: horrible messaging.
When it comes to messaging Democrats lap Republicans and the results have been major wins for Democrats in 2008 and 2012. The Republican Party in general has put out embarrassing attempts at winning over millennials that have made the GOP the blunt of many jokes and they have put little energy and resources into reaching independent millennials who are the key to the White House. Even the College Republican National Committee attempts at reaching their peers have fallen flat.
Republicans also have a problem with the "old dogs" of the party exerting their well intentioned, yet, foolish strategies of the past on the party and candidates for office.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) lost the White House because they are apart of the "old dog" fraternity whose campaign strategy and messaging lacked relevance and effectiveness. New and fresh faces that can relate the millennial generation will be one of the greatest assets to the Republican Party.
One positive for Republicans is the sliding importance of social issues on the national stage. Over the two terms of President Obama a lot of action on social issues has been achieved at the state level leaving issues like the economy, foreign policy, right to privacy, and states rights as the top issues for millennials.
Democrats are grasping at straws to keep social issues alive. Soon President Obama will come out in support of medical marijuana and Hillary Clinton's first two campaign ads feature same-sex couples and parents. Democrats need social issues to stay the top issues to drive millennials to the polls and to vote Democrat. Republicans need to steer the conversation to economic issues and to the fourth and 10th Amendment this election to capitalize on independent millennials.
Republicans can start gaining ground with millennials by doing three simple things.
First, they need to fire everyone who has been working on youth voter outreach and messaging. They need to rebuild the Republican National Committee’s PR team with graphic engineers, actual millennial advisors, and cinematographers.
Second, send the "old dogs" out to pasture. Their time has come and, now, it is gone. It is time to allow the new leaders of the party to lead.
Third, hammer issues relating to the economy, foreign policy, and right to privacy. Millennials care deeply about their privacy and the 10th Amendment, and by focusing on these issues over fading current social issues is a winning strategy.
November 2016 is 19 long months away and, at this point, polls mean more to strippers than predictors. And when if comes to millennials, Democrats can only go down and Republicans can only go up.
The game is set, the teams almost picked, and the game is anyone’s to win.
Salvator La Mastra is an expert in millennials and the youth vote. Follow Salvator on Twitter: @SalvatorV. For Media inquires: Sal.Lamastra@gmail.com
Feature Image: Getty Images
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