A lot of the “evolutionary” arguments were based on the premise that Republican “extremism” had further alienated votes leading to an election defeat. The reality is clearly more complicated.
A new study notes that Romney actually picked up 5 percent more of the youth vote than McCain, while Obama’s share of the youth vote fell.by 6 percent. It’s not surprising that the slicker Romney ticket would have had a slight bump or that a bad economy that has affected those under 30 the most, would lead to some erosion. Like the shift in the Jewish vote, it wasn’t a big win or even a win, but it was a movement in the right direction.
But that also doesn’t tell the whole story. Romney won the white youth vote, but white youth voter turnout was spectacularly bad. For the first time since 2000, white youth vote turnout dropped below 50%. While it’s hard to say with complete certainty whether that helped or hurt, it probably hurt. College educated young people were twice as likely to vote as non-college educated and that is another blow.
One of the big Republican challenges is to get a lot better at getting out the vote. Instead the party is wasting time on evolutionary programs that miss the point. Instead of getting its base to the polls, it’s trying to win over the other party’s base by becoming more like it.
According to CNN’s figures, Mitt Romney actually won white Millenials (18-29 year olds) by seven points, 51-44, despite losing the broader demographic by 23 points. (McCain lost young voters by 35 points in 2008). Virtually all of Romney’s gains within this age bracket came from young whites.