Young Republicans are saying they need to reach a more diverse group of voters (Photo/Getty Images )

GOP report: Republicans have failed young Latino voters

“Dismal” – that’s how the  College Republican National Committee (CRNC)  describes their outreach and messaging to young voters, in particular young Latinos, after examining the scathing results of a national survey. Many of these young people, concludes the new report, “tend to think the GOP couldn’t care less” about them.

“Whether the infamous “47 percent remarks made by Romney or the ‘legitimate rape’ comments made by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) during his Senate campaign, there were numerous examples of Republican leaders making statements that were terribly out of step with where voters – particularly young voters – stand,” says the report, “A Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation.”

A high number of Latinos and other young adults could not relate to the Republican party’s message and rhetoric on a whole host of issues.

On the economy, “our focus on taxation and business issues has left many young voters thinking they will only reap the benefits of Republican policies if they become wealthy or rise to the top of a big business,” the study concludes.  In fact, only 3 percent of young voters think taxes on the wealthy should be cut while more than half (54 percent) think taxes on the wealthy should be increased. This is an issue, since one of the Republican party’s main mantras is to cut taxes on the wealthy. Yet 64 percent of young Latinos said they wanted to start their own business someday, so the CRNC says this is an area where their messaging could improve.

And blasting “big government” and portraying it as a bad thing is not resonating, the study found. For example, many young voters, and in particular young Hispanics, rely on federal student loans. “Many focus group members did think that Democrats were responding to the student loan crisis,” the report says.

Only one in four young people thought Romney’s economic policies would improve their job prospects, and 88 percent agreed with a government “safety net” that helps people get back on their feet while not encouraging dependency.  And on healthcare, “many of the young people in our focus groups noted that they thought everyone in America should have access to health coverage,” concluded the survey. In fact, even Latinos who were not in favor of abortion criticized the GOP for wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, according to the findings.

On social issues, half of the over 40 percent of young voters who believe gay marriage should be legal said they would not vote for a candidate who is against it, even if they agreed on other issues such as defense, taxes and immigration.

And on immigration, the interviews with young people showed it is a “gateway” issue: “for voters who are undecided but have a connection to communities affected by immigration policy, the issue can certainly turn voters away,” the report states. Three out of four young Americans said DREAMers should have a chance to gain legal status, and less than 20 percent of young people advocated deportation or jail time for undocumented immigrants.

Voto Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar says these findings point to the fact that “the Republican Party has courted the extreme right when they suited them, and they lost control of the message.”  Moving forward, Kumar says, Republicans should encourage more moderate GOP members to run for office, and young Republicans and the party’s establishment should back them up.

The report’s conclusions echo the findings of a Republican National Committee (RNC) “Growth and Opportunity Project,” which resulted in the creation of expanded resources and outreach to target Latino and other voters. Responding to today’s report, RNC spokesperson Alexandra Franceschi – herself a young Latina – said “we are putting in place an expansive grassroots effort to develop new relationships in the Hispanic community – we will continue working tirelessly to gain the trust of the Hispanic community.”

Another young Hispanic, Hispanic Leadership Network’s Emily Benavides, said “it’s reports like these that reinvigorate our mission.”  HLN’s communication’s director adds she is confident that “moving forward, we will definitely be successful in our outreach; when it comes to center-right policies, we have shown this in the past, and will do this in the future,” Benavides adds.

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