FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- By all appearances, this is not a bad time to be a Republican in America.
The party controls more than half of the country’s legislatures and governorships. Political analysts generally think the GOP has a good shot at holding the U.S. House and taking over the U.S. Senate in this fall’s elections, and it’s certainly conceivable a Republican could win the presidency in 2016.
So what would possess Yahoo! News and other outlets to publish the headline “Is the Republican Party in danger of dying out?” in March?
“Republicans have a lot of demographic issues right now,” explains Pete Seat, 30 of Indianapolis, a former spokesman in the George W. Bush White House.
The GOP certainly does have issues ahead if you believe this year’s Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends study on adult Millennials, which includes people who fall into the age range of 18 to 33 in 2014.
The study finds that though half of Millennials consider themselves political independents, they tend to vote heavily Democratic. Take the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Among this generation, 66 percent voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 60 percent supported his reelection in 2012.
Also, while half of Millennials say they have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party, only 40 percent have a positive impression of the Republicans.
“I would say I’m more Democrat,” said Bradley Crowe, a 21-year-old student at IPFW. “It’s more liberal and I think that’s kind of what the mind set is of a lot of college students.”
Crowe sized up his generation pretty accurately, especially when it comes to social issues. 68 percent of Millennials in the Pew survey support same-sex marriage, and 69 percent say marijuana should be legalized.
“All the political parties have to keep up with those cultural shifts,” said Indiana Democratic Chairman John Zody, who believes the social issues will present Republicans with a long-term challenge.
Even Millennials who are Republicans, like Seat, admit there could be problems ahead for the GOP.
“The candidates who immediately attract some attention from Millennials are those who have stances on marijuana that are in line with Millennials or on social issues that are in line with Millennials,” said Seat. “Social issues are a gateway, and until that changes it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of Millennials to open their ears or their wallets or vote for Republicans because they just can’t get past that.”
“The Democrats, you know, have a little bit of wind at their back because they’ve been sort of on the right side of the Millennial issues,” said Michael Wolf, a political science professor at IPFW.
The two states that have legalized marijuana, Colorado and Washington, do have legislatures and governorships controlled by Democrats. But that certainly doesn’t mean Democrats across the country are united on the issue.
In fact, when NewsChannel 15 asked about possibly legalizing pot someday in Indiana, Zody didn’t want to touch the question with a ten-foot pole. “These are cultural shifts that we’re starting to see on certain issues that I think we’ll continue to see some change. Where that’s going to go in Indiana I don’t know,” said Zody.
And when it comes to gay marriage, Democrats are generally seen as the more open or supportive party. But Indiana Republican Chairman Tim Berry said that isn’t necessarily a view held exclusively by Democrats, either. “We are not just a single-focus on some of those issues,” said Berry. “There is a welcome opportunity for diversity of thought.”
NewsChannel 15’s series of reports on the future of the GOP continues Tuesday on NewsChannel 15 at 6 and 11.