Ron Paul Dominates the Iowa Youth Vote- But Why?
by NextGen Journal | Everywhere
At Tuesday night’s Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney won by a narrow eight votes over Rick Santorum, but Ron Paul dominated among the youth. In fact, of the 18,000 Iowans under the age of 30 who participated in the GOP Caucuses last night, Paul earned the support of 48%, according to data collected by CIRCLE. Rick Santorum came in second with 23%, while Romney gathered just 14% support.
According to those numbers, roughly 8,800 young people caucused for Ron Paul last night. And while that’s still far less than the estimated 30,000 young Iowans who supported Barack Obama in the 2008 caucus, it’s very substantial. Young voters supported Ron Paul in a much higher percentage than any other age group supported any candidate. Because of that, we wanted to highlight the perspectives of young Paul supporters- what motivated them to caucus, and why they’re attracted to Rep. Paul overall. We interviewed a number of them last night with a common set of questions- here are the results of that survey.
In a few sentences: why exactly did you caucus for Ron Paul tonight?
Ellen Jeffries: First of all, I would have to say his image- I really like the man. He’s true to his word—he has never changed his mind and he seems like a really good guy. I also really like a lot of his issues, specifically militarily and also his libertarian status—less government is a big part for me.
Dwight Lykins: To be completely honest I had no idea who I was going to put my entire support in: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul. Then a friend of mine stood up and gave a speech on Ron Paul and his speech compared to the 3 others I heard aligned the most with what I want my candidate to do.
Jake Highfill: His ideals are very similar to mine—he is the one who can balance the budget and get us back to a surplus. He is almost a true libertarian. I am too.
AJ Grill: He has been consistent the past 24 years, he is the last descendant who thinks the Constitution truly means what it means. It’s not for the legalization or the ban of any social issue, it’s small government, by the book.
Zach Winjum: I think he is the best candidate out there for many reasons. One, he’s defended liberty and the Constitution, which are very important. It’s what the country was grounded on, liberty…. Also, what separates him from other candidates is his foreign policy, which he’s gotten quite a few attacks on. I think young people especially are sick of foreign intervention and all this war, and recognize the debt, and I don’t think our military should be around the world the way it is…. Also, I think he walks the walk, he doesn’t ever – he keeps the same message for years. And he basically wants to restore the Constitution and minimize the power of the federal government in the way the Founding Fathers wanted it to be.
Kara Highfill: I caucused for Dr. Paul for a lot of reasons, mainly for his foreign policy, which I feel is very strong, very effective, and speaks to youth. I think that he is someone different, in the fact that he really can back up what he says. He doesn’t seem like a typical politician, in that when he says he’s going to balance the budget, he’s going to balance the budget. When he says he’s not going to vote for foreign aid, he consistently has the voting record to prove it.
Faisal Alabsi: I support Ron Paul because I really think the US is at a point right now where they need change, and most of the candidates are just like the candidates we’ve seen in the past years, and they just say what we want to hear and not necessarily fix the country but just get the job. Ron Paul is the first candidate I’ve seen in a long time who seems actually genuine- you feel like he’s actually trying to make the country better instead of just get the job…. And a big part I believe in is the national defense issues he has. The biggest one is the wars…. Once he comes to the economy, a big part is legalizing marijuana, which we all know happens in the underground economy, which is a real downfall for the US, because not only is it happening, it’s allowing people to do it in a way that is criminal. But if we were to legalize it, it would really help the economy out a lot, and we can put those things towards stuff that the country needs.
Tanner Gardiner: One of the big reasons why I support him is his non-interventionist policy. I mean, we spend almost half of our federal budget on international affairs, wars, things like that. And if people want to be serious about getting the country back on track economically, I mean, that’s one of the major things that needs to be addressed, in my mind.
What about his policies do you see as being particularly important to young people?
Ellen Jeffries: Less governmental control I think is the biggest one.
Dwight Lykins: I feel that the way that he handles telling people information, his conversations feel much more targeted at my demographic, which is why he has so much support with the youth and not as much with the older electorate
Jake Highfill: Foreign policy. The wars we are fighting right now are not as important to us, we’ve been there too long and getting out of there would save us money. The biggest one is that he will slash the budget to put us in surplus to help our grandkids and get us out of debt.
AJ Grill: Foreign policy. He is a non-interventionalist which I think will play a big factor in the future. With him we’re not out pretending like we can get the bad guys, policing the world and getting into conflicts and wars under false pretenses.
Zach Winjum: I think that states’ rights, for personal liberties… everything that’s not in the Constitution that the federal government does — states and the individuals, that’s what they’re in charge of. So, you know, if they want to legalize drugs in California, then let them do that, and let Oklahoma ban gay marriage, and let them do that. That’s big for young people, and I said before, I think young people are sick of war; why should we be in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and we shouldn’t invade Iran just because we think they might have a nuclear weapon. Those have been important issues for both Republicans and Democrats.
Kara Highfill: I think his foreign policy of not getting into too many foreign interventions, and also, more so, the lessening of government. Because, honestly, the path that we’re on right now is not sustainable, and younger voters especially know that we cannot continue down this direction and balance the budget at the same time, and Ron Paul has the record to show that he is for fiscal conservatism.
Faisal Alabsi: I would have to say his national defense policies about getting out of wars and making sure that we don’t wage war unless Congress actually declares it, because that in itself destroys our economy in a sense. Although it might temporarily make the economy better, overall it worsens the economy and worsens our morale as human beings in this country and as citizens, and I believe that’s the most important one.
Tanner Gardiner: I mean, a lot of people are worried about the growing power of government and losing their civil liberties, and things like that, especially with the price of things going up. Ron Paul is a big supporter of individual liberties, as well as country liberties and following the Constitution. I think a lot of young people are just fed up with the bureaucracy of it all.
Who did you support in 2008? If your support has changed, what shifted it?
Ellen Jeffries: John McCain, no shift, still support the Republican Party.
Dwight Lykins: Registered libertarian and would not have voted for anyone in that election. Ron Paul is the closest to a Libertarian I would get and Obama didn’t do enough to prove to me he has what it takes to move forward. Paul has what it takes for me to get behind.
Jake Highfill: Mike Huckabee, still support the Republican Party
AJ Grill: Obama. I didn’t plan on caucusing until it was announced that Obama was going to sign the National Defense Act, which allows the definite detention of US citizens without due process if suspected of terrorism. It’s the most unconstitutional thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Ron Paul is the only GOP candidate to publicly denounce it.
Zach Winjum: I would have voted for Ron Paul for the Republican nomination, and I would have voted for John McCain in the general.
Kara Highfill: You know, I was really scared; I was a McCain supporter, and Palin came on board, and then I was an Obama supporter. And I ended up voting for Obama, but now I’m still generally pretty independent, and I don’t necessarily vote on issues, but right now I stand pretty strongly in the Ron Paul camp.
Faisal Alabsi: I strongly supported Barack Obama, and that’s because at the time, it was what I thought was right. It was him against John McCain, and I felt like John McCain was going the wrong route, the way a lot of candidates are going this race, as in Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, who I strongly disagree with. Obama, I feel like, has the right ideas, he just is not implementing them correctly currently. I don’t know why that is, I don’t know if it’s because he’s not finding the right ways, or if he has changed his views, but I believe Ron Paul knows his way around the government a little more, and with his strongly spoken views, he can actually do the things he’s talking about.
Tanner Gardiner: I wasn’t old enough to vote, but I supported Obama at the time, because, like many other young kids at the time, he was very successful at getting people charged up, and people anticipated that he would bring about a lot of positive changes. I guess myself, and a lot of other people, haven’t seen the changes that we wanted. In fact, we’ve probably seen some negative changes, as far as rising costs, increased military activity. And so, people are looking for a new candidate that can bring about, that we hope can bring about, the true change that is needed.
Are there any positions Ron Paul has taken that concern you?
Ellen Jeffries: Not sure
Dwight Lykins: His pro-life stance- I’m pro-choice. However, his fiscal policies outweigh the social ones for me.
Jake Highfill: I’m not sure what he believes in gay marriage, I am for it— not big on the social issues, I more support him based on his fiscal policy.
AJ Grill: Getting rid of the Dept. of Interior does concern me. I like the EPA. Eliminating government jobs might not be the answer but I can see with the budget we have now how in the short term it might be good
Zach Winjum: I can honestly say no, I agree with him on just about everything.
Kara Highfill: There are some socially conservative issues that I think he highlighted for the purposes of campaigning in Iowa that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I don’t find it that much of an issue, because social conservative issue may be highlighted in the media and certain parts of Iowa where it’s important to the general community, but for a lot of the youth vote, that’s not nearly as important. And for me personally, for example, abortion: he’s pro life, and I’m pro choice, but honestly I don’t believe that anybody can go in and overturn Roe v. Wade, so I don’t vote on that because it’s a nonissue for me.
Faisal Alabsi: There’s one I’m not completely sure about; he’s going to lift government roadblocks to use coal and nuclear power, which I believe would be a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing if it’s done right, because it’ll give us a lot of alternative technologies for fuel, but if it’s not done correctly, it can really worsen the environment, and I’m not sure how he would go about making sure it was done cleanly.
Tanner Gardiner: One of the things that I always keep in mind is that he’s very much about states’ rights. A lot of people bring up his views on pro-life vs. pro-choice, because he was an obstetrician, and he’s very much pro-life. But as far as a lot of social issues go, I don’t agree with him on a personal level, but it’s important to keep in mind, for people who are looking at him, that he is not a president who is out to instill national policies on social issues, so those become more states’ issues. So, yeah, there are personal things I don’t agree with him on, but there’s an understanding that he is very much more about the financial, getting us on track financially.
Do you think your friends and peers will support Ron Paul? Why or why not?
Ellen Jeffries: Yes a lot of them do, a lot of people at my high school—it’s kind of cool to see a guy that’s so old get support. He can really connect with us and I think a lot of that has to do with his image.
Dwight Lykins: To be honest, most of the things I learned about him were through my friends and peers. It goes back to the way he addresses the youth, he knows his niche well and talks directly to them and it fires kids up a lot more. I think they get more fired up for him than a Newt Gingrich supporter in their 40s would.
Jake Highfill: It’s huge, not as big as Obama, but he is huge on college campuses right now. I would say this is because he is killing social media with Twitter, Facebook, etc.
AJ Grill: Yes, I have been talking to a lot of people who I think support him. He really speaks to the younger generation. I know a lot of people who caucused today—it’s bizarre because he’s so old, but I think his foreign policy has the biggest appeal.
Zach Winjum: When I’ve discussed it with my friends, I’ve noticed a lot of them. I know a few of them actually went out and caucused tonight for him, but like I said before, I think young people, out of all the Republicans, found themselves supporting Paul; as far as my friends who are Democrats go, I think they’re Obama supporters.
Congressman Paul hasn’t ruled out a potential independent run; if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination, but runs independently, how would that affect your vote come November?
Ellen Jeffries: I would actually vote for the GOP candidate instead. I would still like to see my vote go towards the Republican Party instead of having an independent taking away from it. I’m also a big fan of Santorum.
Dwight Lykins: Today I switched my parties to vote for him so if he did run independently I would have no problem switching again. I wish honestly he would run independently—more people would get behind him, I think a lot of Democrats could get behind him. If I were Barack Obama and another Republican, I would fear Ron Paul running as independent.
Jake Highfill: Depends on who wins the nomination, but I wouldn’t vote for Obama or Romney. I would vote for Ron Paul. I don’t trust any of the other GOP candidates.
AJ Grill: I cringed a little bit today when I had to write down Republican because I am an independent so yes, if he were to run on as an independent candidate he would still have my vote.
Zach Winjum: You know, I’d have to see. It would depend who the candidate is. I don’t know if he necessarily would run as an independent. I don’t know, I’d wait and see who the candidate is; I’m not sure what I’d do. I would probably still support Paul.
Kara Highfill: You know, that’s a hard question to ask. I guess I would have to see how it played out, but I would definitely be in support of Ron Paul running as an independent and supporting him. I don’t think that he would lose a lot of support, especially since his main supporters are youth that don’t necessarily align with either party, so I think that he’d have just as much support running as an independent as he would running along party lines.
Faisal Alabsi: Personally, it would make me support him even more, because I consider myself more of an independent, because I believe the two party system is kind of the downfall of the US. It changes the candidates’ views too much into what the masses want, in order to get them voted in. And if you’re an independent candidate, it doesn’t have those forces behind it. But at the same time, in this era I don’t see him getting voted in as an independent, but I will still support him.
Tanner Gardiner: That’s a very tricky question, because if he does run as an independent, that draws a lot of support away from the Republicans. So basically what it comes down to is if he thinks he has enough support to win as an independent. I mean, we saw Ross Perot get 19% when he ran as an independent, and I think there’s a lot more support now for Ron Paul now than there was for Ross Perot back then. Personally, I would vote for him as a third party, and I think a lot of people, because they’re fed up with the polarization and the two party system, would be very receptive to a third party alternative. So I think that could be a very positive decision on his part.NextGen Journal is the website for the ‘next generation,' run by a nationwide team of college students.