We talked yesterday about the new report from the College National Republican Committee, detailing their party’s difficulties in connecting with younger voters. As the College Republicans explained, it’s a “dismal present situation,” with focus groups, led by GOP pollsters, finding that voters under 30 consider the party “closed-minded, racist, rigid, [and] old-fashioned.”
The most damning conclusions lay in the survey’s examination of how people view the two major parties in terms of broad attributes. For Democrats, young voters chose “tolerant,” “diverse” and “open-minded,” while for Republicans they often chose “rich” and “religious.”
In focus groups in January, the report said, young voters were asked to list leaders of the Democratic Party. “They named prominent former or currently elected officials: Pelosi, the Clintons, Obama, Kennedy, Gore. When those same respondents were asked to name Republican leaders, they focused heavily on media personalities and commentators: Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck.”
When making a list of Republican troubles, this should be right up there among the more serious areas of concern. When younger voters think of Democrats, for good or ill, they immediately mention prominent Democratic leaders. When they think of Republicans, their minds turn to far-right pundits, none of whom are especially popular with the American mainstream.
I suppose GOP officials can take some solace in the fact that focus group participants did not mention George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as much as Fox News hosts, but that’s probably cold comfort.
It’s a problem that’s been lingering for a while now – the Republican Party has no real leaders. Sure, it has elected officials in key positions in Congress, but John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are not well known, are not especially popular with anyone, and bring no real gravitas to the national stage.
And so the GOP is the party of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and Beck. It is not an electoral recipe for long-term success.