A letter to the editor of the Madison Eagle newspaper

The Youth Vote: Key to Winning Elections

This fall Virginia voters will go to the polls to elect a new governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Young voters, who were a key voting constituency in 2012, might again play a decisive role. So the candidates could do well to pay attention to the conclusions in a new memo (summary) from the College Republicans National Committee (CRNC). It is one of the best political memos I’ve read in a long time, and has good advice whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or independent.

The CRNC explains how young people think about politics and policies, and how they get their political information. The findings are based on focus groups held in 2013.

Here are some of the CRNC conclusions:

To win back the support of younger voters, the Republican Party will need to change its media strategy, its messages and the way it frames its policy preferences.

For example, the Republican focus on lower taxes and less regulation may be popular among many voters but it is not a relevant issue for most young voters.  The Republican “focus on taxation and business issues has left many young voters thinking they will only reap the benefits of Republican policies if they become wealthy or rise to the top of a big business.“

Instead, the CRNC memo recommends that “connecting our principles to the day-to-day economic challenges faced by young people such as their health care costs and student loan debt” is key. Focusing on reducing the size of government is not an issue that drives young voters.

Young people are often told to listen to their elders. Maybe here is a case where the reverse is important – party elders should listen to the younger generation to win votes and win elections.


Janis Richter
Rochelle, VA 22738