WASHINGTON, D.C., June 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republican Party chairman Rience Priebus thanked the College Republican National Committee for releasing a new, 95-page report stating that the Republican Party needs to stop defending traditional values like marriage and defunding Planned Parenthood if it wants to appeal to the youth vote.
The report, called “Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation,” examines voter trends among those 18-29 and claims young voters have problems with the GOP’s views on hot-button sexual issues. The party’s traditional-minded positions on both same-sex-marriage and reproductive issues were cited in the report as turn-offs to young adults.
“Perhaps no topic has gotten more attention with regards to the youth vote than the issue of gay marriage,” the report says. “[Y]oung people are unlikely to view homosexuality as morally wrong, and they lean toward legal recognition of same-sex relationships.”
The report states that only 21 percent of young voters in a Spring 2012 Harvard Institute of Politics survey felt that religious values should play a more important role in government, and only 25 percent felt homosexual relationships were wrong. And the group’s own March 2013 survey found that 44 percent of young voters said that same-sex marriage should be legal across the country, while 26 percent said that it should be up to states to decide.
Only 30 percent said marriage should be legally defined as only between a man and a woman.
“In the focus groups this issue repeatedly came up as one that made young voters wary of supporting the GOP,” the group said. For that reason, they added two questions to their survey “to gauge how young voters would respond to a candidate who opposes same-sex marriage.”
The survey asked respondents if they would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who opposed same-sex marriage. Some 39 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for the candidate, including 51 percent of young independent voters. About one-third said that the issue would make no difference to them.
Wrote the College Republicans, “Surveys have consistently shown that gay marriage is not as important an issue as jobs and the economy to young voters. Yet it was unmistakable in the focus groups that gay marriage was a reason many of these young voters disliked the GOP.”
One young man in the College Republicans’ Columbus focus group said, “In this last election, everyone said that the biggest issue was the economy. I think to a lot of people that definitely was the case…but if there is just that one thing – a lot of those social issues that you can’t get behind – and see, everything is in two buckets, and if one of those things in those buckets is something you just can’t agree with then [it doesn’t] matter what else is there, economic or otherwise.”
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Among those 44 percent of young voters who believed gay marriage should be legal, half said that a candidate who held traditional views on marriage would be a “deal breaker,” meaning that they would probably or definitely not vote for the person because of it, even if they were in agreement on taxes, defense, immigration, and spending.
The College Republicans suggested the answer for the GOP is to minimize its public opposition to homosexual marriage, instead promoting “diversity of opinion.”
“There is hardly an appetite from this generation to see the GOP crusade against same-sex marriage,” the group wrote. “In the short run, as we wait for the Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, the best course of action for the party may be to promote the diversity of opinion on the issue within its ranks (after all, for quite some time, former vice president Dick Cheney was to the left of President Obama on same-sex marriage) and to focus on acceptance and support for gay people as separate from the definition of marriage.”
The College Republicans also described the GOP’s strong opposition to abortion as a negative for young voters who, although largely supporting limits on legal abortion, see the Republican Party as ‘extreme’ on the issue.
“Where the Republican Party runs into trouble with young voters on the abortion issue is not necessarily in being pro-life,” the group wrote. “On the contrary, the Democratic Party’s position of pushing for abortion to be legal in all cases and at all times, including some recent laws around how to handle medical care for babies born alive during abortion procedures, is what is outside the norm of where young voters stand.”
But the group said the GOP should be careful not to go too far in its defense of life.
“Unfortunately for the GOP, the Republican Party has been painted – both by Democrats and by unhelpful voices in our own ranks – as holding the most extreme anti-abortion position (that it should be prohibited in all cases),” the College Republicans wrote. “Furthermore, the issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception.”
The College Republicans indicated that Planned Parenthood’s rebranding and public relations offensive has been especially effective with young people, leading many of those who self-identify as pro-life to support the abortion giant. A recent survey found nearly half of college-aged people do not know Planned Parenthood performs abortions.
One young voter who was part of the Columbus female voter focus group identified herself as strongly pro-life, but objected to the Republican Party’s unwillingness to federally fund Planned Parenthood.
“The Planned Parenthood thing for me is not so much about abortion,” she said. “It’s about counseling before you can get to that point, and I feel that that’s a big part of what [Planned Parenthood clinics] do, is contraception counseling and about being safe.”
Another female participant in a Hispanic voter focus group in Orlando told the College Republicans, “I think Romney wanted to cut Planned Parenthood. And he supports policies where it would make it harder for a woman to get an abortion should she choose, even if it were medically necessary. That goes head in hand with redefining rape.”