Everyone is Monday-morning-quarterbacking Governor Romney’s campaign, and it’s annoying. Romney ran an honest and positive campaign, and we wish him the best. From the beginning of this race, we said the Conservative Movement needed to speak directly to young Americans. We didn’t, and we lost the White House largely because of this lack of effort.
Romney would’ve won the election had he won just 45 percent of the youth vote in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He didn’t even come close. Instead, young voters drove President Obama to reelection.
Obama won the youth vote 63 to 34 percent in Ohio, 61 to 36 percent in Virginia, and 63 to 35 percent in Pennsylvania—nearly matching his 2008 blowout.
President Obama spent one out of every nine days of his first term on college campuses, and he made student loan debt and other youth issues centerfold is his campaign (even if the policies were wrong). Mitt Romney ignored college campuses and refused to champion youth issues. On student loans and youth health care, Romney actually said he agreed with Obama which gave young people little reason to vote for him over Obama.
The Romney campaign also refused to set up any youth get-out-the-vote efforts. The Romney campaign used college students and thousands of young Americans as campaign volunteers—but had them spend all their time off-campus.
The path to a youth vote victory existed for conservatives. Youth unemployment and underemployment were off the chart, tuition had risen 25 percent, and Obamacare were set to spike youth health insurance prices 45 percent. Why didn’t Romney or any of the major PACs focus on tying these stats to Obama?
Speaking of super PACs, American Crossroads created a youth PAC, “Generation Crossroads,” but did anyone see them on campus? Where did the $750,000 seed money for that group go? Flashy graphics and videos didn’t turn out the youth vote.
Simply put, we need candidates and organizations on campus talking directly to students. Just like with the election as a whole, money spent on ads and social media didn’t work.
Conservatives can win young Americans, especially young Americans who lean libertarian. But, we need to appeal to them in person using the moral case for free enterprise. Young voters want a bright future, and conservatives need to explain why economic freedom is the best anti-poverty policy ever created.
By Ron Meyer