The Republican Party Has An Age Gap Problem

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Thursday, March 29, 2018


According to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll, 82% of Republicans younger than 25 want President Donald Trump to face a primary challenger in 2020. This is in comparison to just 24% of Republicans older than 65 and 44% of Republicans across all age groups who want the same.

There are several possible reasons for this drastic age gap. The first potential reason for this age gap is that older Republicans were already politically aware adults during the Bill Clinton presidency, while Republicans younger than 25 would’ve still been infants or not even born yet.  During the 2016 Presidential election, young republicans saw Hillary Clinton as just another Democratic politician, while older Republican voters saw Clinton as a decades old political rival to be defeated at all costs. The defeat of Clinton led older Republicans to see President Trump through a halo effect that allowed them to excuse some of his worst behavior. Young Republicans, not sharing the same disdain for the Clintons as older Republicans, remained much more critical of President Trump’s flaws.

The second reason for this age gap is President Trump’s immigration policies. Younger Republicans, and younger Americans in general, are considerably more Libertarian when it comes to immigration than their older counterparts. Though DACA-like legislation already polls at 65% approval among those 65 and older, it polls even higher at 72% approval among those 18-29 years old. The hardline immigration rhetoric of the 2016 Trump campaign combined with the hawkish immigration policy proposals from White House staffers like Stephen Miller, has soured some young republicans who are softer on immigration.

The last reason for this age gap is President Trump’s constant participation in the culture war. While older conservatives and Republicans appreciate President Trump’s opinion on whether or not it’s appropriate for NFL players to kneel for the National Anthem, most young Republicans view it as divisive and inappropriate behavior for a President. Young conservatives and Republicans are generally much more tethered to the intellectual roots of conservatism than older Republicans since they’ve grown up on campuses with very active YAF chapters and other conservative student groups. Older Republicans value perceived cultural victories while younger Republicans value victories related to policy and ideology.

This massive age gap will very likely be a problem for the Republican Party in 2020 and in elections in the distant future. The more the Republican Party embraces Trump and excuses his worst behavior, the more young Republicans and conservatives will cut ties with the party.

The issue of the age gap becomes even more troubling when you consider that the Republican Party also has an unprecedented gender gap when it comes to approval of President Trump. If the Republican Party is interested in remaining a long-lasting political party, it needs to start considering the policy preferences and rhetorical preferences of its younger members who will soon make up the majority.

Rebekah was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida, and currently attends Eastern Florida State College, where she is working towards her Associates in Science. Her interests include politics, music, and travel.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Rebekah Etienne

Eastern Florida State College

Rebekah was born and raised in Melbourne, Florida, and currently attends Eastern Florida State College, where she is working towards her Associates in Science. Her interests include politics, music, and travel.

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