FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- “Is the Republican Party in danger of dying out?”
It’s a question Yahoo! News and several other media outlets asked in March.
The question stemmed from demographic trends highlighted in a recent Pew Research survey earlier this year.
Even Republicans admit these trends make the party’s future cloudy.
“It certainly is a challenge,” said Indiana Republican Chairman Tim Berry. He was talking about the U.S. Census Bureau’s prediction that, for the first time ever, the U.S. population will be majority non-white in 2043, when today’s adult Millennials will be in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
“They want to truly believe that the best years are ahead of them, and that’s what we have got to provide them,” said Berry.
But will Millennials -the most racially diverse generation in this country’s history- be willing to listen to the GOP?
“They do have a real concern in that they’ve never wrapped up this group. By a two-to-one margin, they’re down usually,” said IPFW political science professor Michael Wolf. “And so it does bode unwell for them.”
It especially bodes unwell when you consider that non-white Millennial adults just do not appear to trust Republicans. According to Pew Research, about half of non-white Millenials -like their white counterparts- consider themselves political independents. But among the remainder, 37 percent identify as Democrats and only nine percent as Republicans.
“I think the Republican Party is moving away from our younger generation by focusing on things that are out of touch and old-fashioned,” said Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody.
For evidence, Zody said to look no further than this year’s Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly. Lawmakers okayed the first step in a three-step process that could soon result in a constitutional ban on gay marriage when more than two-thirds of Millennials support same-sex marriage.
“Not to speak for them, but I think you have to meet them where they are,” said Zody, speaking about Millennials.
So does that mean the Republican Party needs to do an about-face and broadly support social causes that are wildly popular among Millennials, like gay marriage and legalizing marijuana?
“Just, you know, winning election is not really what you want either if it’s selling out,” said Wolf.
The party of Reagan and Lincoln? Selling out? Republican leaders don’t think they’ll have to do that.
T”We see that Millennials are very concerned. Very concerned about job opportunities. Very concerned about debt and a government that lives within its means,” said Berry. “And as a result [they] very much line and align with the Republican agenda.”
With so many Millennials weighed down by massive college debt and facing a bleak job market, Indiana GOP Chair Tim Berry may be onto something. Bradley, a 21-year-old Millennial in Fort Wayne, said he’s socially liberal and leans Democratic. But when NewsChannel 15 asked him which issues are most important, the first words out of his mouth were: “I think, smart spending, balancing a budget, making sure that we’re not being frivolous with our spending.”
Those talking points have probably been in the playbook of every prominent Republican since Eisenhower, which led Wolf to say, “Just because the skies are darker for Republicans doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way.”