(LIN) — It's time for the GOP to get to work.
This election was embarrassing for the Republican Party, and the biggest group of people pointing and laughing came from one of the largest voting blocs: Those under age 30.
It's not that President Barack Obama was funnier, more attractive or just all around more cool than Mitt Romney. What lost it for the Republicans was the overall image of the party.
According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center , young voters continue to identify more with the Democratic Party and express more liberal opinions on social issues.
According to the study, not only were young voters more likely to back Obama, but they were more likely than any of their older counterparts to identify themselves as Democrats (44 percent).
This shouldn't be too surprising, as younger generations always tend to march to the beat of their own drums.
But the GOP shouldn't throw its hands in the air and give up on the liberal, free-spirited future of America. Young voters (aged 30 and younger) made up 19 percent of the electorate in the 2012 election, and that number is increasing with each presidential election.
If the GOP wants to reach young voters, it needs a new face and a new approach to social issues.
It needs to stop being the party of old, rich white guys who make jaw-dropping statements about rape and abortion. (Seriously. Can we stop doing that please?)
Instead, meet us on our level.
Maybe not so much like former Sen. Alan K. Simpson , but even that is a start.
Sure, it's difficult – if not impossible – to change people's views on gun control, marijuana or abortion. That shouldn't be part of the game plan. Instead, Republican candidates should treat young voters like adults and start the conversation.
Focus on proven results and how the Republican Party is truly looking after our future. Present new ideas, and instead of being focused on differing opinions of young voters on social issues, find other ways to relate to us.
I'm not sure that the young (ish) faces of Sen. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will be enough to change the image of the entire party. Instead, we need to see leaders that are off the beaten path, but are forward-thinking.
"Republican" doesn't have to continue to be a taboo word for Gen Y.
The time to begin campaigning for 2016 is now.
Gen Y is a weekly opinion piece covering issues that matter most to young, influential Americans through their late 30s. Jessica O. Swink, a 20-something, is the digital political producer for LIN Media and contributing editor to onPolitix .
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