Young Conservatives Are Playing the Field

We are a year out from knowing who the next GOP nominee – and likely President – will be and everyone is trying to read the tea leaves.

This weekend we will get to hear from a number of the candidates, and get a glimpse at who is making inroads with the Conservative grassroots at CPAC. We will also see who is resonating with young conservatives who are making their mark felt on the Republican Party.

Recently, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) conducted polling in the four early primary states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. This polling provided a snapshot on the current field of GOP Presidential aspirants, and no surprise Governors Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are leading the pack.

In fact, our polling shows Scott Walker holds a commanding lead in Iowa (21%), is ahead in South Carolina (12%) and Nevada (18%), and is in a strong second place in New Hampshire (11%). Jeb Bush is in the lead position in New Hampshire (15%), in a strong second place showing in Iowa (10%) and Nevada (12%), but falls to fourth in South Carolina (9%). However, as our pollster Alex Lundry noted in his polling recap, “A recent Gravis Marketing poll that did not include Graham showed Bush leading the race with 18%, suggesting that he has the most to gain if the senior Senator from South Carolina decides against running in 2016.”

But this is among all GOP primary voters – when we look under the numbers we find some other interesting data points about younger Republicans and their choice for President in 2016:

  • In Iowa, voters aged 18-34 overwhelmingly favor Senator Rand Paul with 31%, while the rest of the field is in single digits among this cohort. Among voters 35-54, they support Walker with 22% of the vote, while their second choice is split between Paul (12%) and Bush (11%).
  • In New Hampshire, Governor Bush has a commanding 10-point lead among voters 18-34 taking 25% of the vote compared to Rand Paul’s 15%. In fact, Governor Bush is the top choice among the youngest and oldest voters, while he splits the vote among those 35-54 with Rand Paul (Bush 12% vs. Paul 14%).
  • In South Carolina, the clear favorite among voters 18-34 is Senator Lindsey Graham who leads Gov. Mike Huckabee 24% to 16%. It is the younger cohort of voters that are driving the Senators number in the state. Among the older age groups support is spread widely among the top tie competitors.
  • In Nevada, there is a clear division among young conservatives and older conservatives. Senator Rand Paul takes 24% of the 18-24 vote, with Rubio (16%), Walker (14%), and Bush (13%) rounding out the top four among these voters. Primary voters 55 and up have a strong preference for Scott Walker (21% 55-64; 23% 65+) with Bush, Rubio, and Carson following the Governor.

As the candidates gather this weekend to share their vision of America’s future they should strongly consider how that vision appeals to the younger conservatives gathering at CPAC and watching across the county. We know from our years of extensive polling that young Republicans care strongly about ensuring America’s economic, national, and climate security.

It is a generation that understands there are plenty of small government solutions to our energy and environmental problems. These solutions will enhance America’s role as a global leader and ensure we use our abundant energy resources wisely.

Methodology: The sample size for these surveys is 400 likely Republican caucus/primary voters in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina, and 3000 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire. All interviews were conducted using live operator phone technology and were conducted by TargetPoint Consulting between January 30th and February 3rd. Cell phone users made up the following percentages of interviews in each poll: 14% in Iowa, 2% in New Hampshire, 31% in Nevada, and 30% in South Carolina.

James Dozier is the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, which is committed to promoting common sense solutions that enhance America’s economic, national, and environmental security.

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