Not all recent college graduates are cash-poor and taking refuge in their parents’ basements.
The College Republican National Committee, with up to $16 million to spend and headquartered in new digs on K Street, plans this fall to conduct a professionally run get-out-the-vote operation, deploying 60 field staff and thousands of volunteers in as many as a dozen battleground states to boost presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congressional races.
Representing 1,800 College Republicans chapters nationwide and run by recent graduates, the CRNC has elevated its profile and revealed its strategy just as Romney and President Barack Obama have gone to battle over the youth vote, with the two rivals as well as Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill fighting over how to extend government-
subsidized low interest rates for student loans.
In an interview, CRNC National Chairman Alex Schriver said Romney and Republican Congressional leaders were smart to join Obama and the Democrats in supporting the interest-rate extension. Schriver backs Republican demands that it be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere, but he said the issue was likely to resonate for some time with college students and recent graduates who he argues are more disposed to vote Republican in November than conventional wisdom suggests.
“There’s a misconception out there,” said Schriver, who graduated from Auburn University last year. “Were [students] caught up in the hope and change and the rhetoric of ’08? Sure. But this time around, they’re disenchanted; they’re sitting here not better off.”
Schriver said his optimism about Republicans’ ability to attract the youth vote is not misplaced, noting that the GOP presidential nominee won this demographic in 1972, 1984 and 1988. Republicans lost the youth vote by just 1 point in 1980 and 2 points in 2000, the latter a close election that Schriver said proves the value of investing in the targeting of college students and Americans in their 20s.
The CRNC, a 527 organization, recently hired an executive director, communications director, finance director and national field director to fill its new office, located around the corner from the White House. Associated with the Republican National Committee until it broke off in 2001, the 120-year-old group raised
$6 million in 2011 and expects to raise
$10 million this year.
Those funds are slated to underwrite a largely volunteer field program, with the goal of accomplishing 6 million voter contacts through phone banks and door knocks. Last cycle, the group spent 80,000 volunteer man-hours to make
2.1 million voter contacts, Schriver said. The group also intends to invest in the recruitment and training of the college student volunteers that make the organization’s ground game possible. Last cycle, the CRNC recruited 20,000; this cycle, the goal is 50,000 new members.