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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Ramaswamy and the young Republican vote

Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign success demonstrates steps the Republican Party must take to start connecting with young voters.

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Editor’s note: MisCONceptions is a column with four contributors. This article was written by João Ribeiro.

Watching Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy perform Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” (2002) in Iowa was a sight to be seen. Opinions on it varied. To outsiders, it might be seen as a candidate trying to fit in. To Eminem, it was the first and last time he wanted to see Ramaswamy performing his song. To me, Ramaswamy’s “shady” performance was an attempt at capturing a unicorn of sorts — that is, the young vote for the GOP.

As of 2017, Democrats hold a 27% lead over Republicans among millennial voters. The challenge is equal, if not harder when it comes to Gen Z — a key demographic that has been voting overwhelmingly Democrat since last year’s midterm elections. Republican chances with these groups are both a matter of policy and perspective. As young voters steer away from strong conservative policies on matters such as abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, the frontrunner Republican candidates continue to present these issues as if the entire country supports them. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen his support among moderates plummet ever since he began putting social issues at the forefront of his campaign. Nonetheless, if the framing of policies is the first step, then the key issue of perspective still remains.

Although both political parties have senior representatives in leadership, Democrats have a younger base in the House of Representatives, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (33) and Maxwell Frost (26). While the party let go of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership only recently, its young members succeeded in framing the coalition as the party of tomorrow — a party that can usher in a new era for young voters who want change. From the Inflation Reduction Act to the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Democrats do not fear proposing new legislation. The best Republicans can garner is support for gas stoves and ceiling fans. When compared to the efforts of his Republican colleagues, Ramaswamy’s “Lose Yourself” (2023) rendition is unsurprisingly more attractive. It should come as no surprise that Ramaswamy himself leads among young GOP voters in New Hampshire, according to the most recent CNN/UNH poll.

As much as the other Republican primary candidates scorn Ramaswamy for his controversial views on foreign policy, the administrative state, economics and social issues, they fail to see their own fault in the reason why Ramaswamy is doing well in these polls in the first place. Live on the debate stage last Wednesday, Sept. 27, candidates criticized Ramaswamy for being active on TikTok and speaking to influencer Jake Paul about American issues. Meanwhile, AOC has been known to interact with young voters through Twitch streams. As if the name “Grand Old Party” were not enough, the GOP sabotages its chances with young voters at every step. If last year’s midterm disaster for Republicans at the hands of young voters was not much of a wake-up call, the party will soon wish that even the staggered Mitch McConnell learn some Slim Shady lyrics.