As if Romney does not already have enough problems attracting major voter demographics like women and Hispanics, he is now looking to win over millennials, the voting base that previously helped Obama win the presidency. 66% of millennials cast their ballots for Obama in 2008, while only 31% voted for McCain.
Back then, the GOP could only do so much to appeal to young voters, who with the help of the media associated the party with exiting President Bush. But with a liberal incumbent, the Republican Party believes that with enough hip and cool fundraising, they can capture millennial votes. So who will lead the GOP’s new surge? The sharp-suited, intelligent, successful 61-year-old Karl Rove.
Known for his campaign triumphs in the 2004 election, where he micro-targeted fundraising to reach critical evangelical demographics, Rove has now released conservative super PAC Crossroads Generation. The site aims to educate young people about the current economic crisis and get them to register to vote. Without previous knowledge that the site’s primary funding comes from Rove, Crossroads Generation looks just like the popular Rock the Vote and the Declare Yourself ad campaigns. The only major difference is that Jessica Alba is not tied up in duct tape and P. Diddy’s not flaunting a fancy “Vote or Die” shirt by Citizen Change.
These ad campaigns say they’re nonpartisan and just want kids to get civically engaged, but who these celebrities end up openly endorsing shows otherwise. Seeing how cool P. Diddy looks in his “Vote or Die” shirt might push a millennial to fill out voter registration without bias; but hearing that the rapper endorsed Obama in 2008 can influence who the millennial will vote for. Celebrity power in advertising doesn’t just work in retail, it continues to play a huge role in campaign fundraising. Just look at George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker’s dinners.
Rather than showing off a biased list of celebrity supporters, Crossroads Generation uses a video of average millennials talking about their student loan and employment problems. For the conservative youth, the video gives Romney’s campaign what it needs, kids with the drive to register and vote for him. The video begins with Obama’s voice booming with the promise of change, only to suddenly find itself drowned out by the voices of young people talking about how broke and jobless they are.
With Crossroads Generation, millennials get the economic situation straightforward. No famous rapper introduction, no glamorous movie star praises, just hard facts from people their age. Thus, the success of this super PAC rests on how much and how long it can stir fear into young voters. For a demographic that functions on Drake’s motto “YOLO” (You Only Live Once), maybe Crossroads Generation is not just an upper hand for the GOP, but more importantly: a huge bite of reality that millennials can no longer ignore.