On the lighter side, a party Friday will give attendees a chance to mingle and network while wearing zombie makeup — invitations include a jab at the Obama presidency leading to a zombie apocalypse — and the Young Conservatives Coalition will host its ninth annual “Reaganpalooza” party Saturday night in the District.
Republicans realize they aren’t going to win the youth vote with fun and games, and there are competing schools of thought on how to reach college students and 20-somethings.
The recent presidential election suggests Republicans and conservatives still have their work cut out for them. Exit polls found that Mr. Obama won 67 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old vote in November compared with 30 percent for Mitt Romney, according to an analysis at Tufts University. The Republican challenger would have won such crucial states as Florida, Virginia and Ohio had he just managed a 50-50 split of the youth vote.
Jeff Frazee, executive director of Young Americans for Liberty, said the best route for Republicans would be to take the more libertarian approach of continuing to stress fiscal responsibility, but perhaps take a softer stance on social issues such as drug policy and same-sex marriage.
He said the loyal youth followings for politicians including former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas demonstrates a groundswell of libertarian support among youth voters who don’t feel as fulfilled by the Obama presidency as they might have thought.
“What helped Obama was that young people want someone who is taking a stand and fighting the tide,” said Mr. Frazee, 30. “He hasn’t been that, and I think young people are kind of deserting his cause.”
Other conservatives say conservatives should stick to their tried-and-true principles, but most are in agreement that there is progress to be made by bringing the small-government, low-tax message to 20-somethings who are struggling to find jobs and pay off student loan debt.
“You learn when you get your first real job about the taxes and the way the real world operates,” said Chelsi P. Henry, 24, who will attend CPAC as outreach chairwoman of the Young Republican National Federation. “We need to improve our message of how every dollar counts.”