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College Republicans have figured out what's wrong with the GOP
Young activists issue the most brutal assessment yet of the party's electoral woes
"Closed-minded, racist, rigid, [and] old-fashioned" — some of the strong words young Republicans have for the GOP.
"Closed-minded, racist, rigid, [and] old-fashioned" — some of the strong words young Republicans have for the GOP. Facebook.com/CollegeRepublicans
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he College Republican National Committee on Monday unveiled the latest post-mortem on the party's failure to win over young voters last year. The 95-page study echoes many of the findings of a March report issued by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — but it's far more brutal.

The young GOP activists said swing voters who responded to two surveys lambasted the party as "closed-minded, racist, rigid, [and] old-fashioned." They warned that Republican leaders have to change their policies on everything from gay marriage to the economy to improve the "dismal present situation." Latino voters, angered by hardline immigration positions and other policies, "tend to think the GOP couldn’t care less about them," the report said, and people across the board are turned off by "outrageous statements made by errant Republican voices."

Many observers say the young Republicans pretty much nailed the GOP's problems. Rodan at Blogmocracy says Republicans should pay attention to this scathing report instead of pretending "everything is fine and that Obama will self destruct." Now, Rodan says, they have no excuse for failing to make their party more appealing for the under 30 crowd.

They come across as hostile hateful scolds. The rhetoric employed by many Republicans has turned off many younger voters, who want solutions to problems, not the blame game and excuses. Hateful rhetoric and a dismissive is what younger voters associate the GOP with. [Blogmocracy]

Some Republicans believe the GOP can fix its brand by doing a better job getting across its message, as opposed to making fundamental policy changes. One of the report's authors — Alex Schriver, who was chairman of the CRNC during the election — points out that many respondents in surveys and focus groups badmouthed the GOP even though it's working for many of the policies they favor, such as fiscal responsibility. "That's really one of the biggest takeaways of this document," Schriver tells Politico. "We need to do a better job communicating. It boils down to dorm-room issues, how policies we are promoting are going to affect young people today."

But many commentators say the GOP is kidding itself if it thinks the party's problems can be fixed by changing nothing more than its tone and messaging. Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway notes that the GOP has some serious policy issues that are turning away young voters — and opposition to gay marriage is only the tip of the iceberg.

The GOP's disconnect with younger voters goes far beyond the idea of whether same-sex couples should be able to marry. These same younger voters have also grown up in a world where race and ethnicity has become an ever increasing blur, which seems to mean that the idea of opposing policies that grant equality to people of other races seem like self-evident reality to them, just as the idea of equality for gays and lesbians seems self-evident to them. Both of these are areas where the GOP is far behind the curve, and that's a huge reason why they aren't being taken seriously by younger voters. [Outside the Beltway]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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