Republicans have a bigger problem than whether to go after the president for Benghazi or the IRS. In a report commissioned by the College Republicans, young people are overwhelmingly negative about the GOP, calling them "racist, rigid and old-fashioned."
Here are some interesting quotes from the report, which you can download here.
Who will try harder?
For those respondents who said they approved fo the job Obama had been doing as president, the number one word they used? "Trying." He was trying. Young voters were disappointed in Obama's performance but gave him credit for attempting to improve the situation. In our focus groups, many respondents strongly defended President Obama even while acknowledging the mediocrity of the last four years. And when it came to "trying," they doubted Republicans would do any better; that same survey showed only one in four young people thought Mitt Romney would put into place policies that would make it easier for young people to get jobs.
In the August XG survey, young voters handed Democrats a heavy advantage on the issue, preferring their handling of health care to Republicans' by a 63-37 margin...repealing Obamacare had the second lowest number of young people saying they thought it would make them better off (37 percent)...
Many of of the young people in our focus groups noted that they thought everyone in America should have access to health coverage.
Student Loan Debt
Student loans are seen as a weight around the necks of young voters, an obstacle that prevents them from achieving their goals.
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). Furthermore, the issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception.
Yet it was unmistakable in the focus groups that gay marriage was a reason many of these young voters disliked the GOP. As one young man in our Columbus focus group put it, "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 that comes to things we talked about earlier, where you can agree with so much of their things, 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.
General perception of the GOP
Asked which words least described the GOP, respondents gravitated toward "open-minded" (35%), "tolerant" (25%), "caring" (22%), and "cooperative" (21%).
Immigration and Demographics
The issue of the Republican Party's challenges with the youth vote and the part's challenges with non-white voters are inseparable.
I don't see these things changing any time soon. Marco Rubio is already stepping away from his bold posture on immigration while the House of Representatives repeals Obamacare yet again. This isn't a branding problem; it's a leadership and funding problem. As long as old-fashioned rigid bigots hold the pursestrings, that party isn't going to change in a way that would attract young voters now or in the near future.