From the Lens of a Campus Conservative, How the GOP can Recapture the Millennial Vote in 2018
By Nick Braughton, College Republican UMD*
College campuses are at the forefront of the battle for control of the national political dialogue for the next several decades, and so far, conservatives are losing the war. The number of campus Democrats is continuing to grow as left-wing administrators and faculty members foster an environment that promotes liberal left ideology.
“I’m with Her” shirts and “Feel the Bern” memorabilia have become a regular part of campus popular culture, and it is not uncommon to hear professors mock the President or conservative beliefs.
Case in point: I remember viewing the 2016 presidential election returns in my dorm common area, quietly watching as states that I never thought were winnable turned red across the map. Other students confronted me with tears rolling down their cheeks, asserting that as a Republican, I was responsible for this “monster” the nation elected as our President. I was branded as the “Republican” of the dorm – only one of dozens – and it became my identity on campus. It’s no wonder so many Republican college students hide their ideology. Our political beliefs are not welcome on college campuses.
That is not to say there aren’t conservatives on our campuses. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite of how the media portray us. I know many Republican college students who support the President and the Hogan Administration, but these are not the same students who parade through our campuses with bull horns and signs. Since the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the beliefs of the quieter conservative community are often drowned out by the far louder liberal community.
Why do we hear so much about how campus liberals are on a rampage to tear apart the progress of the Hogan Administration and Maryland Republicans this November? Quite simply, it’s due to a lack of information. Conservative beliefs are rarely shared on college campuses by the administration, faculty, and even students. Only one side of the story is being offered to easily influenced students, who are just beginning to form their own political opinions.
To overcome the current political myopia on college campuses, the GOP should consider pursuing two new strategies to recapture votes from millennials. First, we need to get our message out to more college students through social media. Although Democrats now control the narrative on college campuses by dominating social media messaging, this avenue should be more fully utilized by Republicans to target members of both parties on college campuses and increase the flow of conservative news to students. This will build awareness about conservative ideology and may even increase the number of registered campus Republicans.
Second, we should mobilize campus conservatives by investing in our College Republicans and Young Republicans – and I don’t mean financially. College students want to get involved; we want to intern and feel like we are contributing to a greater cause. We want opportunities to meet local influencers and expand our networks so that upon graduation we can become even more involved in the party. As a candidate, including college students in your campaign offers you ambitious, cheap or free labor while encouraging those students to continue supporting the party in the future.
So, while the Democrats have a majority of the political support on our nation’s campuses, it is not a lost cause. The strategic use of social media and the inclusion of college-aged Republicans into our party’s campaign efforts would give the GOP an opportunity to recapture some of the millennial votes that have been lost over the years, just in time to help re-elect Governor Hogan this November.
*Nick Braughton is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in International Business and Economics. If you would like more information about this issue, please contact Nick Braughtonat 908-763-1041or email him at email Nick .