Although Mitt Romney improved upon John McCain’s 2008 performance among 18-29 year olds, Romney still lost younger voters by a significant margin last November. OK, so that’s not new information to anyone in politics. But, digging deeper into the exit polls from the last two presidential elections shows Romney actually won a majority of the 18-29 year old White vote, representing quite an improvement from McCain’s performance in 2008:
So, are Republican struggles really with “young voters” or are they really with “minority voters?” As the exit polls indicate, Romney did more than fine with young, White voters. It was African-American and Hispanic young voters that did him in with this age cohort and stand to hurt our party in the future.
The math is very simple: as Republicans do better with Hispanic voters, they will inevitably win a larger share of the young vote. Looking closer at the exit polls from the last two presidential elections shows that as a share of the 18-29 year old vote, White voters as a percentage fell while Hispanics increased:
Unless Republicans can do better with Hispanic voters, this should be a very scary chart for those within our party. There’s little doubt that Hispanics as a share of the 18-29 year old vote will grow in 2016. And, by the 2020 Presidential election, those voters who fall into the 18-29 column in 2008 above will have moved into an older age group, ushering in an even more diverse (read: less White) cohort into the 18-29 column.
While the impressive 95-page research document released by the College Republican National Committee about young voters was interesting and provides some strategic guidance, if I had to tweet the bottom line in 140 characters or less: There’s no solution for Republicans that helps with young voters that doesn’t start with fixing the party’s problems with Hispanics.