Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Is the national GOP in trouble with younger voters?

Published: Sunday, June 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Pignanelli: Utah's younger voters follow the lead of their parents. But Obama will soon be a historical relic, and Republican principles will have to stand alone without a handy bogeyman. Research results from Utah pollsters indicate our younger Utahns share the same libertarian streak with fellow millennials. This dynamic will soon play out in local inter-party contests.

Webb: Utah Democrats have been waiting for 30 years for the pendulum to swing in their direction. They will wait another 30 unless Republicans self-destruct from within, by allowing the right wing to dictate policy and run the state. Utah's young people will become good Republicans as long as the party sticks to its foundation of limited government and low taxes, along with mainstream, pro-growth, problem-solving policies that result in excellent education and great jobs.

Is there potential benefit for Utah Democrats in all this?

Pignanelli: The report also concluded: "It is not that young voters are enamored of the Democratic Party. They simply dislike the Republican Party more." Equally revealing, most respondents could identify Republican thought leaders with ease, but were stymied when asked about Democrats other than Hillary Clinton. In Utah — and across the country — not being Republican is a short-term strategy. Democrats must articulate thoughtful solutions … soon.

Webb: It will take a number of years, but Democrats badly need to cultivate bench strength in Utah — mainstream problem-solvers who are not highly ideological. Congressman Jim Matheson and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams are good models.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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