Reuters: Young voters abandoning GOP -- turned off by Republicans' reliance on "culture war" issues

  • KissTheSky

    Posts: 2025

    Feb 25, 2012 11:45 PM GMT
    By Patricia Zengerle

    Feb 24, 2012 13:02 EST

    FAIRFAX, Virginia (Reuters) – Colleen Wilson has all the makings of a foot soldier for whichever Republican becomes the nominee to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

    The Virginia college student comes from a conservative family and describes herself as a Republican. She is an intern at the county Republican committee and paid her own way to attend the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this month.

    Her support should be a given for a Republican in Virginia, one of the closely contested “swing states” where the 2012 presidential election will likely be decided.

    But it’s not.

    “I may vote for Obama,” said Wilson, who is 19. “It’s possible. I can’t say now, but I’m not ruling it out.”

    The George Mason University student, like a majority of her peers, is a moderate on social issues. She supports gay marriage and some abortion rights and has been turned off by the strident “culture wars” now creeping back into U.S. politics.

    She had planned to vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney because of his business experience and ideas for fixing the U.S. economy, but said inflammatory rhetoric at CPAC made her wonder if she could vote for any of the party’s candidates this year.

    “It scares me how extreme they are on social conservatism,” she said. “It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in gay marriage. It was how vicious and closed minded they were.”

    As former Senator Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic, emerged as a front-runner, the Republican White House hopefuls have increasingly promoted conservative views on social issues such as candidates’ opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage has broadened to criticism of contraception, prenatal testing and questioning of Obama’s religious beliefs.

    The shift could be devastating for the Republican party in a year when the key to defeating Obama could be paring back his overwhelming popularity with voters under 30.

    Participation by young people in Republican primary races is down compared to four years ago and pollsters are seeing signs that the culture wars could weaken support for Republicans among younger voters.

    “Millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) are a very tolerant generation. They have very much of a live and let live philosophy and when you suggest that government ought to come in and determine how you live, you lose millennials,” said Morley Winograd, a University of Southern California professor and author of “Millennial Momentum: How a Generation is Remaking America.”

    A Reuters/Ipsos poll this month showed Obama’s approval rating at 53 percent among 18-34 year olds, compared to 48 percent for the overall population. Obama was ahead of Romney, then the Republican front-runner, by 51 percent to 37 percent among the young.
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    Feb 25, 2012 11:52 PM GMT
    Golly, are the right-wing, extremist, doctrinaire Republicans shooting themselves in the foot? One can but hope. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Feb 26, 2012 12:48 AM GMT
    Between the changing social mores - even among younger Christians - and the changing demographics (more Latino, less white), the Republican Party is essentially doomed. If not this election, then by the next one.