A year after Donald Trump’s inauguration, midterm elections are gearing up to give America a brand new, fresh spectacle on the political battlefield. millennial voters, in particular, have kept both Republican and Democrat candidates on alert as the younger demographic has refused to settle into predictable voting patterns or adopt wholeheartedly the platform of either party. Special elections in Virginia and Alabama gave renewed hope to the Democratic Party, and the question of how to secure the millennial vote is a central concern.
On most issues, millennials — who comprise about a third of voting-age Americans — lean liberal. Polls show the majority of millennials favor single-payer health care and support homosexual marriage at record-high levels. But in spite of liberal tendencies, it’s hard to cast millennials neatly into the Democrat net because of their unique, middle-ground position on abortion.
The reality is that a majority of American millennials supports significant restrictions on abortion — a far cry from the Democrats’ extreme plank of abortion on-demand for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy (which is current federal law). Millennials typically want abortion to be available only in certain cases — i.e., during the first trimester, or only for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
Creating a further chasm between millennials and their perceived party of choice, Democrats uphold Planned Parenthood as an exemplary organization and a key recipient of federal tax dollars — a view that millennials largely reject, according to recent data from the Barna Group. Millennial views on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding shifted dramatically after undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress revealed that Planned Parenthood engaged in negotiating the sale of fetal human body parts.
Republican candidates must be cognizant that their plank on abortion aligns much more closely with the views of most millennials than does that of their Democratic counterparts. Republicans should proudly and unflinchingly own their pro-life views and invite millennials who are in the grey area on abortion to embrace the platform’s explicitly pro-life plank. While pro-life student groups drastically outnumber pro-choice groups (by a ratio of more than 5:1), polling by the Harvard Public Opinion Project found that only 25 percent of Republican students feel that they can share their political views on campus “without fear of censorship or repercussions,” compared with 60 percent of Democrats who feel comfortable doing so.
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In other words, millennials want the freedom to express their pro-life values and will appreciate the examples of political leaders who do not kowtow to bullying and censorship by leftist peers and media.
Republicans also should not underestimate how relevant abortion is to the lives of millennials. College-age women comprise the most highly-targeted group by the abortion industry. Millennials have dealt with abortion in their own lives or the lives of their loved ones. They were the first generation to grow up with Roe v. Wade as the law of the land for their entire lives. The Democratic platform offers millennials more of the same, but abortion has not served millennials or improved their lives, as countless personal stories attest.
If Republicans can powerfully represent the pro-life worldview and convey the attractiveness of a country where abortion is obsolete, and mothers and their children are cared for and supported, they hold the key to renewed fervor among millennials. But Republicans will lose that opportunity if they ignore or gloss over the abortion conversation.
As Gallup has noted, the percentage of people who say that a candidate’s abortion views are crucial in choosing how to vote is on the rise, with those who self-identify as pro-life being more likely to vote only for a candidate who shares their views. In this environment of fragile political coalitions, candidates should keep in mind that the human rights issue of our time — the rights of the preborn — is important to a rising voter bloc.