A large majority of young Republicans think their party would do better in national elections if it nominated more minority and women candidates, according to Pew Research Center data released Friday, but older Republicans aren't so sure. Pew finds that 68 percent of young Republicans think the GOP should nominate more minorities to win more elections, and 64 percent think it would do better if it nominated more women. But older Republicans (aged 40 and up), are less convinced. Only 49 percent think nominating minorities would help, and 46 percent think nominating women would help.
The numbers illustrate the GOP's outreach problem and its members' conflicting ideas on what to do about it. At a summit in Mobile, Alabama at the end of July, young GOP-ers met to discuss the future of the party (and how it can do better in 2014 and 2016). Most think the GOP needs to tolerate a "range of views" on social issues like immigration and abortion. Angel Garcia, who leads the Young Republicans in Chicago, addressed the crowd:
We don't have to lose our principles. But we have to have a conversation on all these issues so we don't leave Democrats to say we're just old white men and racist, bigoted homophobes.
Garcia advocates expanding legal immigration. For a representative of the older voters who are more skeptical that nominating non-white-guy candidates will help, we can turn to Rush Limbaugh. In the days after the 2012 election, as Republicans were talking about reaching out to new voters, Limbaugh was not convinced: "Why, putting it somewhat coarsely, why doesn't the Republican Party get credit for Condoleezza Rice?"
Erika Harold, a 33-year-old, Harvard-educated lawyer (who was also Miss America) is currently running for Congress in Illinois. She would be the first black Republican congresswoman if she wins the seat. But she's challenging an incumbent, Rep. Rodney Davis. Some older party members (naturally) aren't happy about that — they blocked her from speaking at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair last week. In June, Montgomery County GOP chair Jim Allen apologized after sending the editor of a Republican news site a racist email about Harold. "Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires," Allen wrote. He later said his comments were "very inappropriate and wrong."
Instances like this have caused some young Republicans to identify a general lack of tolerance in the party. The Pew study shows 45 percent think the GOP is not tolerant and open to all groups. Only 32 percent of older Republicans think this is the case. Erika Harold may not be the GOP's great hope in 2014, but young party members think finding candidates like her sure would help things.
Photo of Harold at the Anti-Defamation League's headquarters in 2002, via AP.