The Ugly Youth -- I mean Truth -- About the Romney Campaign

Celia Bigelow

11/16/2012 12:01:00 AM - Celia Bigelow

Is it just me, or does a candidate actually have to reach out to constituents in order to win elections?

Seems like a foreign concept to Mitt Romney.

In a phone call with supporters, Mitt Romney blamed his loss on Obama buying the support of key demographics--like young Americans--with political “gifts”:

“In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups...With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

This is all true, but no one has the right to whine when they made no effort to win over young people. Conservatives must learn that winning elections will be impossible if we keep ignoring college campuses.

This election was the perfect opportunity to win back a large portion of the youth vote. Young people were notably less enthusiastic about President Obama because of his failed policies and broken promises that have left young people economically devastated. Mitt Romney had the opportunity to connect the economic policies of President Obama to why young people are seeing higher tuition, no jobs, and a higher cost of living.

But, he didn’t.

He didn’t even make an attempt to hold events or plan solid get-out-the-vote efforts on college campuses. In fact, we’ve talked to many student leaders that said the Romney campaign actively shut down requests for campus campaign events and asked students to terminate social media efforts such as “Students For Romney”.

Romney instead wanted to peel his student volunteers off campus to make phone calls and go door-to-door for the campaign. Romney missed out on a historical opportunity to win over first-time voters and the many students that are second-guessing their support for the President.

Did Romney really think he could win the hearts of young Americans who have only been hearing from and seeing the Obama campaign actively engaging them on campus? When has that ever been the case? Never.

Looking back in history when conservatives have won the youth vote, we can see a clear tie between actively engaging young people during campaign season with voter turnout. President Reagan is the perfect example. In 1984, Reagan won 60 percent of the youth vote, and it is because he was making the effort to engage in conversation with young people and he had an active get-out-the-vote presence with groups such as Young Americans for Freedom on campuses across the nation.

Romney’s speeches were even void of the problems young people are facing. The only thing we ever heard him mention was the rise in college tuition and lack of jobs--both of which were hardly touched nor explained properly in a way that would encourage young people to pick Romney as their guy.

Conservatives need to realize that young people aren’t scary and shouldn’t be avoided--they love freedom and constitutional principles. It’s not a wild dream that young people will ever vote for a conservative. Ron Paul is overwhelmingly popular among young Americans, and for good reason. Ron Paul adheres strictly to the Constitution and isn’t afraid to call out political leaders--both Republican and Democrat--if their actions stray from it. With Ron Paul, what you see is what you get, and young people love the truth he embodies.

I believe that if Ron Paul--a champion of individual liberty--had been the Presidential candidate, he would have easily won the youth vote.

Young people were searching for answers this election, and conservatives--especially Mitt Romney--failed to provide them. Rather than playing Obama’s own game of pointing fingers, Mitt Romney should learn from his own actions and accept the consequences. Conservatives must learn from this election and note the power of the youth vote. It can no longer be ignored.