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Young Republicans Are Concerned About Leadership, Not How Their Leaders Tweet

BY Nick Judd | Monday, February 25 2013

Top Romney for America strategist Stuart Stevens raised a straw man Sunday in a Washington Post op-ed that attacks "young, technology-focused Republican operatives who feel that the Republican Party should be doing more (which we should) and that, horrors of horrors, I chose not to tweet during the campaign. (For the record, I’ve had a Twitter account since shortly after the service launched and follow it perhaps a bit too obsessively.)"

His unrepentant reply does little to bridge a growing generational rift in the GOP.

Stevens' Twitter account was never what worried the younger operatives quoted in Robert Draper's New York Magazine piece from last week. I spoke to some of the same people in the course of reporting a piece that focused more precisely on the Republican Party's technology issues.

They told me — and I reported — that the subpar state of the party's approach to social media, or any aspect of technology, was just a symptom of a disease endemic in Republican politics. Draper found this too, although I am obliged to point out that he did so about a week and a half after I reported much the same thing. The key paragraph from his piece is not the one that takes a swipe at Stevens for not playing the 140-character game. Instead, it's this one that sets the tone for the rest of the piece:

The unnerving truth, which the Red Edge team and other younger conservatives worry that their leaders have yet to appreciate, is that the Republican Party’s technological deficiencies barely begin to explain why the G.O.P. has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The party brand — which is to say, its message and its messengers — has become practically abhorrent to emerging demographic groups like Latinos and African-Americans, not to mention an entire generation of young voters. As one of the party’s most highly respected strategists told me: “It ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time.”

There is a subtext here that analysts and operatives have been dancing around for months, and it is that fresh faces, and fresh ideas, are not given the same weight in the GOP that they have received in Democratic politics at least since the Howard Dean campaign.

This piece first appeared in today's First POST.

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