The Corner

GOP Won’t Deserve Millenials If It Abandons the Pro-Marriage Ones

Illinois GOP chairman Pat Brady thinks gay marriage is the secret to Republicans’ winning Millennial voters, but he’s wrong.

Brady lamented to a reporter this week that GOP support for traditional marriage is driving away young voters: “How are we ever going to get the vote of anyone under 40?” he asked.

As a 27-year-old ardent supporter of traditional marriage, my question to Pat Brady is, “How does the GOP deserve to get the vote of anyone under 40 if they don’t act decisively to strengthen marriage now?”

Here’s some hard data: Despite all of the Obama campaign’s advantages among young voters, Romney actually won under-30 white men by 13 points. He won under-30 white women by a point. He won 93 percent of under-30 white Republicans, while Obama only managed to get 91 percent of under-30 white Democrats. Romney also won under-30 white independents by two points.

Was Romney’s support for traditional marriage crippling for him among under-30 white voters? Clearly not.

Ben Domenech of Ricochet offers a better read on why the GOP is struggling to win the overall youth vote:

The youth voter barrier to the Republican Party is really the same barrier as it is for all age demographics: an ethnic barrier which concedes black, Hispanic, and Asian voters to Democrats. If abortion and gay marriage really are the decisive issues preventing Republicans from winning those voters, why aren’t they rated higher in the polling data among those voters?

But even this good analysis misses some more fundamental points.

Married voters overwhelmingly support Republicans. For instance, the marriage gap in the 2012 election was 41 points. Build a stronger marriage culture, and a pro-marriage Republican party will benefit. (As a side note: How many articles have you read about Romney’s supposed “women problem,” regarding a gender gap of 18 points, and how many did you see that discussed Obama’s “married problem,” when that gap was a far larger 41 points?)

And despite the weakening of the marriage culture we have witnessed over the past 30 years, young people still overwhelmingly value marriage, often more so than their parents’ generation. Millennials, despite their extensive personal experiences of the damaging effects of divorce, still desire the unique benefits of marriage. An abandonment of traditional marriage by the GOP would leave 12 million Millennials without a party that reflects their views on marriage.

Even within the Republican party, the latest polling shows 63 percent of young Republicans support the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. And when you include the silencing effect that pollsters have noted on the issue, it would not be surprising to find out the real percentage is higher, especially considering the immense cultural pressure on college campuses and in the young urban social scene to conform to same-sex marriage orthodoxy.

But as these young pro-traditional-marriage Americans age and acquire the courage of their convictions I strongly believe we will see more of them coming out in support of marriage. In fact, this is already happening.

Finally, we need to remember that the same pundits who are currently lauding the victory of same-sex marriage in liberal states like Maine and Washington last November conveniently chose to ignore that in North Carolina earlier that same year, marriage won among under-40s by about eight points.

The recent elections, in other words, did not necessarily show age-related demographic shifts as much as they highlighted the already-existing ethnic and geographical realities of the voting electorate.

With a few of these facts and statistics in mind, one can now see how misguided Republican elites such the Illinois state GOP chairman are when they claim the GOP needs to abandon its stance on marriage to attract young voters.

Instead, the GOP must continue to strengthen marriage if it wants to be appealing to Millenials in the long run.

— Thomas Peters is communications director for the National Organization for Marriage.


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