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Republicans, Take Note: Here's What Mitt Romney Must Do to Win the Youth Vote

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Last month, Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential front-runner, said he does not understand how a young person could vote for a Democrat. He elaborated, saying that considering the immense debt that Democrats are creating, destroying the future chances for young people, it is unclear to him how a young person could give his or her trust to a Democratic candidate.

President Obama now leads Mitt Romney by 17 percentage points – 43 percent to 26 percent – among voters ages 18 to 29, according to a poll released Tuesday by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP). That margin represents a 6-point gain from the last survey of millennial voters by the IOP in November.

I have conducted a random survey, with young people from eight different states, asking them a question: “What would Romney have to do to win over your vote?” The answers are revealing, and might help Romney understand better how a young person could vote for a Democrat.

Nathaniel, 23
La Farge, Wisconsin

“I would not vote for Mitt Romney under any foreseeable condition. If elected, I can see him being an even bigger big government neoconservative than George W. Bush. This means more poverty, infringement of civil liberties, gratuitous defense spending, and corporate tax cuts. Romney is the last thing our country needs.”

Anna, 21
Burlington, Vermont

“He'd have to not be a Republican. Just kidding. I'd like to see him more socially liberal. I'd want him to promise to spend more money on things like education and health care (universal), social welfare, etc. I'd want to limit our military involvement in other areas and concentrate more on what needs to be fixed in the United States, such as making us less dependent on gas and more on renewable energy. His being Mormon doesn't really help his case either.”

Kristin, 21
San Jose, California

“For me, he'd have to show that he can relate to the middle and lower class citizens of America. If he can’t relate to us, then he won’t be able to understand and potentially fix the problems we're faced with.”

Kayla, 21
Siloam Springs, Arkansas

“I believe that when it comes to voting in presidential elections, Americans either vote with loyalty to their party or select "the lesser evil."I think that in a lot of Western capitalist countries, there is starting to be a shift in politics toward more socialistic tendencies. I believe that capitalism works well in the U.S., and we are not meant to be a socialistic country which Obama pushes for. Although Romney is not my favorite for certain issues, I would prefer him over Obama and I don't want to see such a world shift in politics towards socialism, because we have seen that socialism doesn't last. But, if it had been Santorum, I would have voted for Obama. Honestly, it's not about party allegiance for me, but really for picking "the lesser evil" because I'm not a fan of any of the candidates for 2012.”

Hugh, 21
Boston, Massachusetts

“Mitt Romney is from my state, and most of us still don't like him. While I don't dislike him nearly as much as many of the other Republican candidates, I am still definitely not going to vote for him. What would he have to do to earn my vote? He would need to develop a personality and he would need to start sounding and acting like a leader. He seems very unsure of his ideals and it sounds like he would change his positions on matters in a moment if polls told him to. Mitt Romney is more of a follower than anything, and so he would need to make some tough choices and stand up for them for me to start having any respect for him.”

Colleen, 22
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“Honestly he'd have to become a liberal ... haha. I just couldn't see myself voting for a conservative and though I do think he is a better option than Santorum was, I just really can't identify with him on pretty much any level, particularly his extreme wealth. That being said, I haven't kept up to date with his campaign, so I do have to admit I'm not at all an expert on any of his ideas, but to me what is important is education, health care, the environment, domestic issues, etc. I just don't see a Republican-led government concentrating on these things."

Kayla, 21
Cottontown, Tennessee

“Although I haven't followed many of the debates this year, I still differ from most of the others on this. It's not about parties to me. I am pretty conservative on many issues and so in order for him to gain my vote, he would have to take a leading stance on issues.I want to see health reform, but not a socialistic-style health care system. I would like to see someone willing to serve the country for it's own sake, and not act as we owe them something (like many of our politicians do now). Furthermore I would like to see a leader who rallies both sides to come together, rather than someone who only gives credit to a certain party’s ideas."

Hannah, 20
Bangor, Maine

“He would have to be much more socially liberal. I would like to see funding go to places like health care and our education system. I would like to see him recognize problems like children going hungry and gas prices rising like crazy. Honestly, at this point, there is nothing he can do to win me over. But if Obama doesn't get his act together, who knows what could happen.”

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It is obvious that the main issues for young people in 2012  are health care, welfare state issues, education, and endowment spending. For the sake of having diverse and higher quality debate between the candidates for the election, I hope the GOP will take note.

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