Like President Barack Obama and every other presidential hopeful, the only way to win the White House is by winning the coveted youth vote.
The 80 million-plus precocious millennial generation accounts for over a quarter of the electorate and this time around they wont be fooled by ambitious promises and lofty slogans.
The millennial generation can also be critical in winning a party’s primary nomination. As seen in the 2007 Democratic primaries where Hilary Clinton was unable to win the nomination against Barack Obama due to lack of youth support.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, his wife Heidi, and their two daughters Catherine, 4, left, and Caroline, 6, right, wave on stage after he announced his campaign for president, Monday, March 23, 2015 at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va. Cruz, who announced his candidacy on twitter in the early morning hours, is the first major candidate to officially enter 2016 race for president. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Like Clinton, the next Republican presidential nominee will need to win over the Republican millennials to ensure a win in what is sure to be a crowded and challenging primary battle.
There are many ways to appeal to millennials and unfortunately Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is not off to a good start.
Ted Cruz, being a good Republican, followed his predecessors in making the Republican party the brunt of another joke. Sen. Cruz’s announcement was filled with a comedy of errors and apparently orchestrated by the same people who did those horrible “hipster ads” put out by the GOP last year.
Apparently, Sen. Cruz and his team thought it would be a great idea to announce his candidacy for president at a polarizing private Christian university during a school convocation where attendance is mandatory. Because nothing says youth voter support like mandatory attendance, just like nothing says successful healthcare reform like mandatory health insurance enrollment.
Unfortunately, Sen. Cruz is portraying the same dishonest illusion of support with the youth vote as Obama has done with Obamacare. Millennials are through with and more critical of shady politics due to the many inconsistencies coming from the Obama administration and have little patience for candidates who use these gimmicks to get elected.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), on the other hand, made his presidential announcement the right way. He went back to his home state and surrounded himself with the constituents who sent him to Washington, D.C. In other words, it was not a campaign stunt.
Following Sen. Paul’s speech were the first of what will be countless campaign videos explaining that he is a “different kind of Republican.” He is sticking to a winning campaign strategy to gain the respect and vote of not just Republican millennials, but Independent millennials. And they are the key to the White House.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined by his wife Kelley Ashby, arrives to announce the start of his presidential campaign, Tuesday, April 7, 2015, at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Millennials are passionate about the First, Fourth, and 10th Amendments and Sen. Paul has specifically geared short, attention catching videos that explain his passion and support for these core American securities. The millennial support for upholding these vital amendments translate party line and is key in transitioning from the primary to the general election.
Sen. Paul has shown his message energizes and excites millennials across party line by his previous standing ovations at CPAC and University of California Berkley. He is on his way to winning the presidency and the only thing that can get in his way is listening to old dog republican campaign strategists.
Millennials were promised quite a lot in 2008 and begged to take a second chance on "hope and change" in 2012, but life never got better for millennials. This powerful and diverse generation is still facing double-digit unemployment, over $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, and saddled with the burden of financing Obamacare.
Shouting a few catch phrases like unemployment, Obamacare, student loans, cost of education, and the NSA spying will not win you the youth vote. This time around it will take real solutions and real candidates to get millennials to the polls.
Sen. Cruz has the bones of a good campaign, the U.S. Constitution. Millennials are in favor of governing by the U.S. Constitution but that includes the federal government staying out of state specific social issues. And the Sen. Cruz does not have a good record of doing so during his time in the Senate and short time on the campaign trail.
Any serious Republican presidential candidate has the intense challenge of staying true to their beliefs and appealing to a socially liberal yet fiscally conservative electoral powerhouse, the millennials. It is a serious challenge for republicans but something that can be done with the right approach.
Republicans have to win the youth vote in 2016 and, currently, Sen. Rand Paul has the best chance at doing so.
Salvator La Mastra is an expert in millennials and the youth vote. Follow Salvator on Twitter: @SalvatorV
Feature Image: (AP/Mike Groll)
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