Two Republicans Sat Down At the Bar….

After Wednesday evening’s Atlanta Young Republicans meeting, Will Kremer and I went downstairs to the bar of Five Seasons Westside to discuss the results of Tuesday’s runoff election. We were talking about how David Perdue was able to eke out a narrow victory in the Senate race despite having next to no support from people in the GOP establishment.

“Excuse me,” said the guy sitting two seats away at the bar. “I couldn’t help but overhear what you guys are talking about. Mind if I ask a few questions?”

We started up a conversation. He appeared to be in his late twenties, and worked in the entertainment industry. He wasn’t a big fan of the current Republican Party, which he considered to be mostly old white men. That being said, he admired Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, but did not vote in the 2012 Presidential election. He didn’t trust Barack Obama because of the intrusive nature of his administration. He thought Mitt Romney would have difficulty keeping his religious views from affecting the decisions he would have to make as President.

He explained he was an atheist, and was turned off any time religion was brought into politics. “I guess I’m the only atheist who is fan of the GOP,” he said. We assured him he was not.

We asked him a few questions, trying to get a better handle on his political views. He said he was conservative on many issues, but was socially liberal. He was worried about an overreaching government. That became clear when he expressed doubts about the Patriot Act and the potential it brought for an invasion of privacy. He brought up his opposition to the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, which he thought could lead to a slippery slope of religious involvement in government decision making.

I asked him who he might vote for in the 2016 Presidential election. He couldn’t name a candidate, except for Hillary Clinton. I tried phrasing the question a different way. What policies might a candidate advocate that would make him consider that candidate? He couldn’t name anything in particular.

While he couldn’t easily articulate what he sought in a possible candidate, he was quick to identify what would cause him to drop a candidate from consideration. He would not be a fan of a candidate who used social issues in order to win votes.

He said he had strong libertarian leanings, with a small l. He wasn’t a big fan of Ron Paul, and preferred the GOP over the Libertarian Party.

He was completely unaware that the Republican candidate for Saxby Chambliss’s Senate seat had been decided in a runoff election the previous day. That kind of surprised me, knowing that the candidates and their PACs had spent north of $10 million in two months trying to get out the vote.

“Do you ever watch Fox News?” I asked. “Sometimes when I’m at my parents’ house,” he said, pulling out his smartphone. “I get most of my news from here.”

It was getting late, so we wrapped up the conversation. As Will and I walked out to the parking lot, we decided that we had just spotted a Young Outsider in the wild. Young outsiders have conservative views about government, but are socially liberal. Members of this group represent one of the political typologies identified by Pew Research in a study released last month. And, they have been identified as the key to growing the GOP beyond being a bunch of pale stale males.

Earlier in the evening, Peach Pundit Editor Charlie Harper told the Young Republicans who came to see what he had to say that they would need to reach out to people who don’t spend their free time attending meetings like the one they were at, and explain to them why they should vote for David Perdue rather than Michelle Nunn.

Maybe, instead of meeting upstairs, they should have been downstairs talking to people like the one Will and I met at the bar.


  1. Trey A. says:

    Interesting anecdote. But, I wouldn’t pin my hopes on converting the Young Outsider set. As Pew shows, they’re the white children of current GOP voters–except less religious and more skeptical. Not exactly fertile ground for growing the party…

    • dsean says:

      The GOP will have to change to match the preferences of the Young Outsider generation – less religious and more skeptical of government. Otherwise, it’ll wither and die. I say that as a probably member of the Young Outsider typology.

  2. griftdrift says:

    Agree with that. I know this will be met with instant derision, but the aggressive approach would be to try to peel off the right leaning sliver of the New Left curve.

  3. Jackster says:

    These folks, like myself, are better reached through service efforts. As in, they volunteer for causes they believe will help the community, not the ones that further their own goals. (As most civic and political organizations seem to be perceived with the adoption of a marketing blitz.)

    To that end, if you want to engage and discuss issues with these folks, you and your campaigns need to focus on your communities – specifically the folks and organizations in your communities who seek to make it a better place to live.

      • Jackster says:

        I believe I qualified that with “your campaigns” – as in have some community service events where you actually do work, not spend your time aimlessly loitering around suburban subdivisions seeking to GOTV.

        Actions of campaign volunteers and those inside a community providing service and volunteering with organizations in their community will build back a traditional base.

        For instance, there are several officials who sit on boards of local groups, but do not actually put in the work. They are there for funding and influence.

        Which candidate are you referring to, Bridget? I’d love to check their campaign disclosures to see if they made contributions or paid for service events to these local orgs.

        • Baker says:

          She’s talking about the ACA-supporting, Harry Reid-as-leader-voting candidate…and it happens to be a woman. Her name is Michelle Nunn. Apparently her father did some stuff. And she’s best friends with George Bush – the good one, not the evil one.

          P.S. – If anyone thinks the party that Sam Nunn was in is still around, I’ve got a time machine I can lend you and bring you out of 1985.

          • griftdrift says:

            The “Harry Reid supporting” thing is a perfect example of a thing that seems very important to people here but that guy in the bar couldn’t give two whiffs about.

            A Democrat would support his or her party’s slate for leadership? Well that is shocking! SHOCKING I SAY!

            • Baker says:

              I know, but I think maybe that still matters to Bridget. Maybe.

              That said, Heath Shuler gave it a try for about half a second but didn’t quite make it.

            • Dave Bearse says:

              Of course it’s shocking. Not one of five major GOP Senate candidates would commit to supporting the current Senate GOP leadership, and three of them said they would actively oppose it, including the nominee.

        • Jackster,

          You don’t have to explain to me how most board members don’t get into the weeds with volunteers. I sit on a board of an organization that I’m very passionate about. Our board members “do the work”, and our passion is largely why we’re so successful in the community. By contrast, it’s easy for me to see what other boards don’t do because I know what “walking the walk” looks like.

          My comment above was a nod to Michelle Nunn. Serving Georgia isn’t just a paycheck for her or a PR effort that was started two years ago in order to prepare for this campaign. Yeah, she was/is CEO but it wasn’t just a C-level position that was given to her. It grew from effectively an ED position…from a really good place.

          — Everyone has the capacity to do something for the community, even if it’s a small step, Nunn says. “The first steps are the hardest,” she admits. “Being of service to others and making a difference, being connected in the community, is one of the best ways that you can have a meaningful life.”

          Sometimes one-on-one opportunities can be the most fulfilling. Nunn began mentoring a girl, Giovanni, when she was 6 years old, a relationship that’s deepened over the last 12+ years. Giovanni even joins family vacations with Nunn, her husband and two children. —

  4. Patrick T. Malone says:

    As long as we (the party) continue to allow ourselves to be defined by main street media with examples of Paul Broun, Jody Hice, Rick Santorum, etc. quotes, we will not appeal to the “young outsiders”. Less government, conservative fiscal policies, strong national defense, etc. are things we have in common so why not more emphasis on those things that we have in common and less emphasis on those things that drive us apart. BTW, I am proud of the fact that I am an “old white man” because it means I am on the right side of the grass when I wake up in the morning.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Allow yourself to be defined? Broun was a crazy Congressmen representing a solidly Tea Party conservative district. He accomplished nothing (unless obstructionism is an accomplishment), yet could have continued to serve as long as he wanted. His replacement, xenophobe Hice, is a shoo in. It’s not the media defining them as representative of the GOP Tea Party base. Any objective educated observer can reach that conclusion.

  5. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    I know a number of Young Outsiders, but they vote. They might skip a few people on the ballot along the way but they do in fact show up. Somewhere along the line they understood participation was important.

    However in this case it sounds like this young man has never voted. He’s a bit young to have voted for President George W Bush, and certainly not for Ronnie. Which might explain why he didn’t know about the election, clearly he would not have been on anyones target list without a Voter File record.

    Sigh, anecdotes are not data.

    • Jackster says:

      He would have voted for local races, though – which tend to be more appealing, as they have greater impact on tax dollars and their candidates tend to engage directly.

    • Will Kremer says:

      Millennials, which make up the Young Outsider set, could have voted in a presidential election as early as 2000. This gentlemen voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Prior to voting for Obama, he had voted Republican in nearly every election. If the GOP is going to grow, then we need to get outside of our traditional way of thinking. When Jon wrote, “Maybe, instead of meeting upstairs, they should have been downstairs talking to people like the one Will and I met at the bar,” he was absolutely correct. How do we attract young, first time voters if we simply go along a voter file record? Think outside the box.

      • Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

        Thank you for adding his 08 vote, that wasn’t clear.

        To the issue of attracting young, first time voters… you’d have to have a relatively robust Voter Registration program with a even more robust backend that tracked them, their many moves, targeted and touched them about issues, promoted voting and then got them to commit to vote.

        This isn’t just a GOP issue, it’s a civic engagement issue with this group. After looking at the cost and the sustained effort, many conclude if they can win by reaching the “Fox voters” that’s all they wish to do.

        Everyone is looking for the magic bullet with this group-thus far it doesn’t exist.

        • Jon Richards says:

          When Charlie talked to the YRs last night, he wasn’t addressing the role of the candidate. He was speaking more about the role of the grassroots and the local party organizations, from the state party, to county parties and Young Republicans, Republican women’s groups and even College Republicans organizations.

          If the GOP doesn’t make an effort to reach out to this type of individual, then the party will slowly die off. That’s not something I’d like to see, nor is it something Will would like to see.

          As chair of the Georgia College Republicans, he’s trying to figure out how to reach people with this mindset. Figuring out the best way to do it isn’t easy. And for millennials, it’s a completely different process than what has been done in the past, basically due to the way they live their lives.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            The GOP had probably better speed up that outreach timetable….That’s because Georgia’s fast-changing demographics (which are currently identical to Democrat-dominated Maryland) make the state an extremely-attractive target for a takeover attempt by national Democrats who have designs on dominating GA in the not-too-distant future.

      • ChuckEaton says:

        It’s a great point. While there is value in meeting to organize and discuss strategy, at some point our efforts need to move beyond people who are already on board with the cause.

        The only thing I would add to your comments regarding young, first-time voters (and I understand that’s your primary charge) is we need to be reaching out to minority voters in non-traditional methods as well. Obviously, there is a great deal of overlap in these two demographics.

        Our platforms on entrepreneurialism, school choice, less government, etc.. should appeal to a broader base of people. If we don’t radically change our methods of outreach, in 10-15 years the Republican party of Georgia will be irrelevant.

        • Will Kremer says:

          I would go as far as to say that the Georgia Association of College Republicans is one of the most–if not the most–diverse GOP organizations in the state. The Georgia GOP Minority Engagement Director, Leo Smith, has worked hard with the Morehouse College Republicans to not only make their presence known on campus, but to grow the organization. The Georgia State College Republicans has an executive board made up of almost every demographic you could imagine. I’m proud of the diversity in the organization.

          The Republican Party wins with Millennials when we discuss jobs, entrepreneurial and other conservative fiscal policies. It’s all about messaging. In fact, I had a conversation about messaging and growing the GOP with Leo Smith shortly after he was hired by the Georgia GOP. He said something that stuck with me: How can we talk about recruiting minorities when we say the word “outreach.” Outreach implies we are above the individual and are trying to enlighten them. We need to engage. If we engage, we recognize we are equals. Our messaging problems are numerous and it’s going to take real effort and resources to correct them.

          • THIS –> “How can we talk about recruiting minorities when we say the word “outreach.” Outreach implies we are above the individual and are trying to enlighten them. We need to engage. If we engage, we recognize we are equals. Our messaging problems are numerous and it’s going to take real effort and resources to correct them.”

            That’s it in a nutshell. As stands, there’s absolutely nothing in the GOP’s messaging that indicates equality. It simply indicates “We need your vote to bash our enemies. This is WAR.” Not your opinion, ideas, value…just give me your vote every two years and then pipe back down until the next cycle.

            I hope fiscal conservatives figure it out. Truly I do. In contrast to Will, I’m certainly not a “Young” Outsider, but by most markers I squarely belong to that group. I’m doing what I feel to be the right thing in order to make Georgia a better place. Most commenters on here don’t agree with my means, but the end result and the best strategy to effect positive change for Georgia is my goal.

          • ChuckEaton says:

            I know Leo Smith and have had the opportunity to break bread and discuss his work with him. Although, I’m not sure if I agree with your implication of the word “outreach.” It’s used a lot in connection with churches, but I don’t think it implies anything more than reaching outside – otherwise we’d use the word “belowreach.” But if the word has become tired, then I’m all for fresh packaging.

            My only point is we need to be discussing new and creative ways to engage folks who’ve not thought about voting Republican. Our ideals should resonate with a broader demographic and folks have not made the leap yet. I’m not even sure it’s a messaging problem per se, I think a portion of the population isn’t even receiving the message, or getting the wrong message – although I’m ready to admit I could be completely wrong about my theory.

            I think 75% of our Party time and resources should go to addressing this problem. If we don’t do something soon, we’ll be on the outside looking in and the concepts of free enterprise, personal responsibility, limited government and school choice will fall by the wayside.

            There is no doubt many young people feel disconnected with the Republican party. Your work there is very important. Perhaps, we can get together sometime and discuss this further.

            • Dave Bearse says:

              I take the similar interpretation of outreach, except that my interpretation is that the basis for the first syllable is hardly nobody for “inreach”, and those in that are in are disproportionately Allen West crazy.

    • Jon Richards says:

      Funny, but the wrong analogy to use. The person we met was interested in politics. That why he reached out to us with questions. And he certainly seemed to be informed about the issues. What Will and I were trying to explore was how to get him more engaged in the process.

      There is actually another category within the Pew typology for people the video describes called Bystanders. They will be more difficult to engage.

  6. TheEiger says:

    I think it is very important to reach out to younger voters, but I also think that the GOP needs to do a better job at not allowing the other side to get away with outright lies about what we stand for. For too long we have assumed that voters will get informed and make the decision to vote GOP because we have the best policies, but what we have done is allowed the Democrats to define us as something we are not.

    We must do a better job in defining ourselves and not allow the other side to do it for us because we will continue to lose. Before we do anything as a party we need to start showing that we stand for things and not just against things and define ourselves. If we don’t do this then the democrats will continue to label as the stale.pale.male party.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Outright lies? How dare you accuse supporters of the Kenyan Muslim that will impose Sharia Law that will place cotton pickin’ hands on Medicare.

      • TheEiger says:

        I think we can all agree that both parties have their fair share of crazy and stupid people. And you can’t fix crazy or stupid. People that think Obama was born in Kenya and was put into the Oval Office to do Georgie Soros’ bidding is one or the other.

        What I’m talking about is having the minority leader and the head of the DNC say that republican policies are like pushing granny off of a cliff or that republicans just won’t old people to die. This isn’t coming from some fringe of the far left. This type of thing comes from leadership. I’m not saying it’s wrong for democrats to do that. It’s part of what is called politics. All I’m saying is we need to do better about getting ahead of this type of thing and define ourselves.

        I won’t hold what Hank Johnson says against you just because you are a democrat so I’d hope you would through me in with Michelle Bachman and Paul Broun.

        • xdog says:

          First, if you think crazy and stupid people are evenly split between both parties, please give me the donk equivalent of Stockman, Broun, Gohmert in the House and Palin, Kristol, Morris on the pundit side. I don’t mean people that you or I might disagree with on this or that but otherwise might do business with, I mean people who so trapped in their own heads that they’re consistently delusional and deeply stupid.

          Second, to your point about pushing granny off the cliff, please check Paul Ryan’s latest budget effort that gopers keep waving around like it’s the map to salvation. Along with the usual goper goals of boosting defense spending and giving unfunded tax breaks to the wealthy, it would repeal the ACA, make deep cuts to Medicaid, and change Medicare from a basket of benefits to a subsidy. Now some of those changes may be desirable or even necessary but gopers haven’t shown any interest at all in the individual and societal costs of what they propose and until they do, charges of granny-pushing will stick.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          I concede Dems do have extremists and a bit of crazy too, but their relative numbers are much less, and their influence doesn’t hold a candle to those in the GOP.

          So what has Johnson said that compares with the routine crazy of the mouths of those identified by xdog, or Allen West or Limbaugh?

          Evolution lies from the pits of hell, rape shutting the whole thing down, etc isn’t in the same league with Johnson’s island tipping over remark nonsense offered meant to be a joke. GOP crazy swamps anything on the Dem side in both magnitude and volume.

  7. troutbum70 says:

    If we want to grow the party, we have to get back to being the “Big Tent” party. We have to look back onto ourselves and ask what type of party we want to be. Are we going to let the fringes of the party organization dictate where we stand? Can we develop some common sense and realize that as conservatives, it means that we don’t touch certain issues and let it be decided in the privacy of our own homes? We’re behind the 8 ball on outreach and connecting to segments of the voting population. Heck, we can’t even sell Voter I.D. laws in way that most minorities will agree that we’re trying to protect them as well. Let’s be honest, would stalwarts like Reagan, Dole, GHW Bush and others of similar background even find room in what represents the GOP these days?

  8. Dave Emanuel says:

    In their rush to either nit-pick or support this post, I think some commenters have missed the core issue. The “young outsider” isn’t the only potential GOP voter who feels disconnected from many of the party’s candidates. He or she is simply emblematic of a host of demographic groups that are essentially conservative but have significant misgivings about what they see as the Republican stance on government involvement in social issues, specifically abortion and gay rights issues. These “outsiders” don’t necessarily support the Democrat positions on these issues, but they perceive the GOP position to be overly harsh and intrusive. Being against a particular belief or philosophy is one thing, attempting to impose a belief or philosophy on someone else is quite another.

    As I wrote in a blog post, you’re either in favor of limited government or you’re not. You cannot convince people you favor limited government when you take a stance that government should interfere with certain lifestyles or personal decisions. As long as the GOP continues to beat the drum on social issues, it will have difficulty cultivating new members and more importantly voters.

    • Trey A. says:

      Gay rights is a biggie–and the GOP’s unwillingness to embrace gay rights is unquestionably alienating a new generation of voters. But GOP stances on gun control and immigration aren’t helping either… Problem is, the base doesn’t want a big tent. They just want to win without compromise. Not going to work that way.

      • Dave Emanuel says:

        Gay rights is a biggie, and not just with the gay community. I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are far from embracing the gay lifestyle, but feel it’s a personal matter and not an area in which government should intrude. I don’t know that the GOP has to “embrace” gay rights, it simply needs to stop attacking them. The anti-gay rhetoric creates a “what are they going to attack next” question in many people’s mind. Additionally, it smacks of hypocrisy– it has the GOP saying we’re the party of limited government except when you live a lifestyle with which we disagree. That position may be unpalatable to some because they infer a lack of attacks an abandonment of support for traditional marriage. That isn’t the case. The fact that you don’t attack gay rights does not imply anything other than you are not attempting to impose your values and beliefs on others.

        • Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

          “Gay Lifestyle” is coded language. What “lifestyle?” Also annoying to hear “special rights”. There isn’t anything “special” about second class citizenship.

          People. People that’s who we are talking about.

          Yes they are gay, lesbian, bi or transgender. Trust me, they’re not asking anyone to “embrace” them. It’s simpler than that. What is expected by them is for government and institutions to treat them equally.

          By incessantly qualifying every conversation with “you’re not like me, but I guess I’ll have to grudgingly deal with that” just to seem tolerant; you do yourself a disservice. I believe you are actually trying to be decent.

          Same goes for the qualifiers towards women, latinos, black, asian, disabled, elderly, poor etc.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        If Second Amendment rights advocates are “wrong” for keeping the gun grabbers from taking legal firearms from law-abiding citizens, then we don’t want to be “right”. We’ll take “wrong” over defenseless any and every day of the week.

      • Harry says:

        I find it hypocritical when the pro-Obama people complain about the GOP mixing their belief system with opinions on public policy, and then Obama turns around and appeals to Christian charity to get the churches to take government money to house, feed and clothe the 100,000 illegals who he persuaded to move to the US. Of course, you don’t see information that being promulgated in the media.

        Anyway, it comes down to the numbers. If you folks think you can win elections by “ignoring” the intrusive, aggressive pro-homosexual agenda then go ahead and give it a try. I can promise you, in the future it will bite you in the butt in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

        • Jon Richards says:

          Harry, I was trying to keep the whole gay rights argument out of this post, but it seems to have made an appearance. I was trying to get to it indirectly with this:

          “While he couldn’t easily articulate what he sought in a possible candidate, he was quick to identify what would cause him to drop a candidate from consideration. He would not be a fan of a candidate who used social issues in order to win votes.”

          In discussing the issue with most people I talk to, including the person I talked to last night, they are not pro gay rights in the sense that they are ready to write their Congressman or stage a demonstration to advance that agenda. Typically, they feel that it (and many other things) are none of the government’s business, and so they don’t see a reason to oppose the issue. For that reason, they shy away from entities, including candidates and political groups, that oppose it.

          • Harry says:

            It’s a difference in value systems between two different demographics or constituencies. For reasons listed previously, I trust and believe that my demographic will win out, sooner rather than later.

          • Will Kremer says:

            I echo what Jon stated.

            I will add this: No one is asking for anyone to ignore their beliefs and values. It is entirely possible to gain ground with Millennials while holding socially conservative views. To prove this, I point to Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia. Ken came under fire from liberals and a decent amount of conservatives for supporting sodomy laws. Through strategic messaging and advertising, Ken garnered the support of Millennials in Virginia. The rest of the GOP deemed Ken too conservative to be viable. Ken ended up losing, but that proves candidates do not have to suppress their beliefs to get Millennial support.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          As to private charity, simply another example, like Obamacare, of many conservatives that berate others when others move toward their conservative positions, then refuse to compromise any, and move farther right.

          Eventually we reach a point where the foregoing is untenable, and there can be no compromise—we’re almost there.

      • John Vestal says:

        Gun control probably isn’t one of the keys to this issue, as the Pew numbers indicate Millennials are actually holding pretty steady with the older demographics (and across the ideological spectrum) with regard to both 2A rights and abortion.

        They are more moderate/libertarian on the issues of drug legalization and immigration, and considerably more so on gay rights/marriage.

  9. troutbum70 says:

    Kim Kardashian has done more to harm the sanctity of marriage than any gay or lesbian couple ever will!!

    • Harry says:

      All this crap has been going on forever. Human weakness is temporarily rewarded, sometimes.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Kim Kardashian likely can’t even spell or pronounce the word “sanctity” much less practice or abide by it.

  10. Dave Bearse says:

    Good luck. You’ll be discouraging half your (already minority nationally) base going after this demographic. He’s skeptical of government, not the same thing as the anti-government views increasingly pervading the GOP (only when in the minority and not directly the growth, natch), so the party’s platform isn’t exactly in sync with him on non-social issues either.

    Fear-mongering about inflation will be about as relevant to him as the Weimar Republic. He was, after all, in Hooterville during our spot of inflation in the late 1970’s. (Due largely to skyrocketing oil prices, not government management of the economy, but why let an explanation discredit policy?). The GOP saying inflation will occur any day most of his entire adult life just makes him more a skeptic.

    No worries though, the messaging can handle it.

    • Harry says:

      There’s a different type of “messaging” you use for guys who spend their time sitting in bars.

  11. John Konop says:

    Other isues turning off young people are the War on Drugs, overreach of policing power since 9/11, policemen of the world foriegn policy and hyper spewing on immigration. The above is why Ron Paul polled well with youth…..This tug of war in the GOP is a real issue….The under 35 crowd tend to be libertarian on social policy, fiscally conservative, big supporters of personal rights over state and very secular with race, religion…….I think some of you do not want to Hear it….but voices like Bridget really do represent the trend with under 35…..Exellent post Jon….real food for thought…..

      • Charlie says:

        While I’m sure you’re trying to be nice and positive, there is no reason for you to continue to tell everyone they made a good comment, nor to add superfluous thanks for someone posting something. Please stop doing this.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Okay, if you insist….But I don’t tell “everyone” that they made a good comment, I only do so when I actually like the comment and I only say “thanks for the news” because many stories are posted that I likely would not link to or read otherwise.

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