The Washington Times - October 24, 2013, 12:59PM

Looking to strengthen its image with young voters, the Republican National Committee announced Thursday that it has hired a national youth director.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Elliott Echols will takeover the post and will be charged with bolstering the party’s image with the younger-than-30 crowd.


“Today’s announcement is groundbreaking,” Mr. Priebus said in a statement. “Bringing Elliot on board in an off-year will help us build relationships with young voters and mobilize students and young professionals to take our message to their peers.”

Recent history suggests the Republican party faces an uphill battle in its push to win over more young voters.

Exit polls from the 2012 election showed that President Obama won 60 percent of voters between 18 years old and 29 years old, compared to 37 percent for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The voting bloc made up almost 20 percent of the national electorate.

Polls also show the recent budget stalemate that led to the 16-day government shutdown may have put an additional dent in the GOP’s efforts to woo young voters.

A Washington Post-ABC News survey released this week showed that 76 percent of voters in the 18-39 age bracket disapproved of the way the GOP has handled the budget negotiations, compared to 51 percent who disapproved of President Obama’s approach.

The poll found that 58 percent of these voters had an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, while 40 percent had an unfavorable view of Mr. Obama and 44 percent had an unfavorable view of the Democratic party.

In the press release, Mr. Priebus said Mr. Elliot will be laying the groundwork for the 2014 election and beyond.

“Young Americans are independent-minded people who are concerned about getting our nation’s economy back on track and I look forward to getting their input on how we move forward as a country and as a party,” he said.