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.