Even the GOP knows it needs a makeover.
On the heels of the re-election of President Obama, the Pew Research Center conducted a national survey to understand the public’s perceptions about the Democratic and Republican parties. The poll, released recently last week, found that:
- 62 percent of the public believes the GOP is “out of touch with the American people”
- 56 percent of the public thinks the GOP is not “open to change”
- 52 percent say the party is “too extreme”
67 percent of young voters voted for President Obama, while only 30 percent voted for former republican governor Mitt Romney—suggesting that when it comes to appealing to young people, the GOP isn't better off either.
Though some argued that the GOP simply needs to expand and improve their presence on social media, others cautioned that this strategy is superficial. The Republican Party must adapt to the changing culture, specifically with regards to social issues to become viable again.
Peter Levine, a professor at Tufts University who studies the dynamics of the youth vote, suggested that social media is not the GOP’s main problem, in a recent interview with NPR.
“Young people in the exit polls really aligned with Barack Obama on the issues as well. So I don't think they just voted for him because the Black Eyed Peas liked him. I think they actually voted for him in both '08 and '12 because they agreed with him,” Levine said.
For some young people, the GOP's "extreme" views are enough to cause a major shift in political affiliations. Sean Higgins, a Political Science major at the University of Mississippi, used to consider himself a moderate Republican. Yet, Higgins, now president of the University of Mississippi College Democrats, said that it was the perceived intolerance of the party that caused him to switch his party affiliation.
"The Republican Party is stuck in a different generation. On issues such as gay rights, women's rights and immigration, they are stuck in a 1950's mentality. Our generation is committed to helping others and lifting them up, while Republicans have demonstrated dedication to protecting their own wealth and resisting progression and equality," he told Campus Progress.
The growing divide between young people and the Republican Party already garnered attention from GOP leaders—most prominently, the Republican Chairman Reince Priebus. “We’ve divorced ourselves from the culture” Priebus told Bloomberg recently.
Priebus also launched a “listening tour,” comprised of meetings with Latino, Asian and young voters across the country in an effort to connect with those groups that voted Democratic in overwhelming majorities.
The desire to connect with more diverse voting populations seems to be a growing trend within the Republican Party, as several prominent Republicans have recently indicated their support for marriage equality and comprehensive immigration reform.