Robert Draper published a piece on Thursday that is a hard-hitting look at the Republican Party and the efforts that they are taking to try to become more relevant to the voters, especially younger voters. He spent time interviewing several young Republicans including Bret Jacobson and Ian Spencer, part of the five-man company Red Edge that is a digital advocacy group for conservative causes, Kristin Soltis Anderson, a 28-year-old G.O.P. pollster, S.E. Cupp, a New York Daily News columnist and co-host of “The Cycle” on MSNBC, and Patrick Ruffini, a 34-year-old leader of the young Republican digitial movement.
Draper also interviewed Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager and current Global Head of Public Affairs for private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)- mentioning how Mehlman has become a vigorous supporter of the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York and beyond. Ken Mehlman explained to Draper how the demographics of the nation have changed, and how a typical voting couple would be different from what it was in 1970.
“There’s an important book by Ben Wattenberg and Richard Scammon called ‘The Real Majority,’ published in 1970,” Mehlman explained to Draper. “The book explains in part how the Republican Party would go on to win five out of six presidential elections through the eyes of the ‘typical’ voter — a working-class couple in Dayton, Ohio. They’re white, worried about crime, feel burdened by taxes and feel like too many Democrats don’t understand these concerns.”
However, today’s voter is a little different. “Here’s the difference,” Mehlman went on to explain. “They worry about economic mobility — can their kids get ahead or even keep up. Their next-door neighbors are Latino whose mom gets concerned when she hears talk about self-deportation or no driver’s licenses. And that couple has a gay niece and an African-American brother-in-law. And too many folks like the couple in Dayton today wonder if some of the G.O.P. understands their lives anymore.”
Ken Mehlman, according to Draper, feels that the biggest issue for modern Republican candidates is not finding a new Reagan, but finding someone who understands that modern voter. Someone who knows the demography and how the new voters react and change, and who can adapt to their concerns.
Others he interviewed think that the solution might be even simpler. As Jacobson explained, “I think the answer for a vibrant Republican Party is to make our North Star empowering every individual in this country to follow their own dream, free of legislative excesses.”