Following the 2020 election, Republicans will have to win elections without Trump in office or on the ballot. As Trump departs, the conservative movement has several issues to address. When the MAGA base dissipates and the next Republican leader rises, will Trump’s legacy affect voters’ decisions? Specifically, how will the remnants of Trumpism sit with generation-Z and millennials?
These questions may seem premature and inconsequential; however, the youth vote in 2018 midterms far exceeded historical turnout, and, if this trend continues to hold steady, both parties will need to appeal to younger members of the electorate in order to win.
Efforts to get out the vote recently have surged youth participation, and Republicans have failed to capitalize in the same way Democrats have. For example, the Democratic party has welcomed youth activists such as David Hogg to appeal to voters his age while the Republican party lacks any real outreach method. Seemingly, the Republicans have given up on reaching out to this growing share of the electorate, but these voters will increasingly influence elections as participation rises. Assuming that Republican strategists correct this misstep, the stain of Trump’s unpalatable character presents yet another obstacle to address.
Considering that 29% of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29, social media obviously offers a viable method for campaigns to attract voters. Rather than use his following to convince voters to turn out for him, Trump actively pushes away independents and younger voters. Nearly one-third of Twitter users constitute the youth vote, meaning that for four (or possibly eight) years, young people have observed the off-putting rhetoric. As a result, Trump’s legacy may very well drive away potential young voters that the Republican platform appeals to. Many argue that his tweets increase his momentum, but that is only true among his already solid base. Appeasing the base does little to grow the conservative movement, and it hurts the future of the GOP.
Furthermore, younger generations show more concern towards matter of inclusion, diversity, and sensitivity. Regardless of the veracity of accusations against Trump’s character, the very appearance of malevolence leads many voters to write off the possibility of supporting Republicans. Even among conservative minded youth, the Republican party needs to consider the cultural difference that exists between generations and figure out messaging that effectively reaches generation-Z and millennials.
Additionally, young voters focus on healthcare (52%) and climate change (46%), but conservatives have not taken advantage of these issues to reach them. Republican representatives must expand their electoral reach by addressing these issues with young constituents in their areas. Conservatives don’t have to compromise, but movements like Green GOP have the potential to fuel the next generation of conservatism. Policies like the Green Nuclear Deal and educating the public on the free market and deregulatory solutions for healthcare have the potential to win their votes. Taking note of organizations like PragerU that target high school and college students, Republicans can make their younger constituents feel heard and adequately represented by proving they care about the same issues. Importantly, the Republican party needs to reach out to younger generations and fix their messaging to better target them.
The divide between Trump’s candidacy and future candidates is stark, so maybe other Republican leaders can build a broader electoral coalition. For example, Nikki Haley, thought to be a possible contender in a later presidential election, recently criticized Trump for his unnecessary comments about Rep. Elijah Cummings. Perhaps her polished approach will feel refreshing compared to Trump’s brash tweet storms, but only time will tell. Until then, conservatives must address Trump’s blunder and focus on reaching younger members of the electorate if the Republican Party is to remain a formidable opponent to the Democrats.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.