Brennan Faulkenburg, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, isn’t the only young American voter who has felt the effects of the lack of a common brand within the Republican Party.
He was initially someone who was leaning right, but inconsistencies from the Republican Party drove him away. Faulkenburg currently identifies as an independent.
“Romney, for example, during the primaries he was trying to be more conservative ... in the general election, he was trying to be more moderate ... I didn’t know which one to believe,” Faulkenburg said.
According to an analysis done by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, during the last presidential election, President Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney on the youth vote nationally, 60 to 37 percent. In 2008, according to a poll by Pew Research Center, 66 percent of those under 30 voted for current President Obama. Young voters proved to be the decisive difference in key states such as Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
One of the major talking points that Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said at the last Republican National Convention was that the GOP must appeal to younger voters.
Last March, Priebus said, “I know we have to do a lot more to make up ground in minority communities with women and young votes. Specifically for youth voters, the report outlines the need to promote forwards-looking policy proposals.”
Bobby Egan, a senior in the school of Management and President of Purdue University College Republicans, personally blamed the lack of cohesive branding on the Republican defeat last election.
“I think, in 2012, there was a lot of poor messaging by the GOP,” Egan said. “It’s frustrating to see a guy like Mitt Romney to fall like that ... he even was a bipartisan candidate in Massachusetts when they constructed ‘Romney-Care’.”
Though it may provide Democrats an opportunity to steal elections in the future, Angela Mata, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the president of Purdue University College Democrats, says that it could hamper efficiency in politics.
“When it comes to having productive discussions, it is not a good thing,” Mata said. “There is still a desire to have some bipartisan impact where you can come together and compromise on issues and that is getting increasingly difficult.”
The hiccups of the Affordable Care Act could provide an opportunity for all the fractions of the Republican Party to come together. Egan said he wished the Republican Party would approach the health care mandate in a different manner.
“I think in those 40 million, 50 million people that don’t have health care, they hear Republicans say that (they are against it),” Egan said. “Republicans need to be like, ‘Hey we are going to take this away but we will replace it with something better,’ and there hasn’t been that answer.”
Mata said amongst her younger conservative peers, most tend to be socially more liberal yet still fiscally conservative.
“I think that is exactly what will hold the Republican Party together,” Mata said.
Egan said that in the next presidential election, Republicans need to sway away from social issues that divide the party and focus on the economic ones, as those are the common ground amongst the sects.
“Taking a very populist argument about lower taxes and government saying... and saying, ‘Hey, by the way, our corporate tax rate is the highest in the world and that is discouraging companies from coming to America and inherently discouraging jobs,’” Egan said. “Which affects your family ... your income level and your upward mobility.”
A Washington Post-ABC poll released after the recent governmental shutdown showed that 76 percent of voters between the ages of 18-39 disapproved of the way Republicans handled budget negotiations on Capitol Hill.