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Can Conservatives Win Back the Youth Vote?

Our CBC Member of the Week, Skot Covert, Co-Chairman of the College Republican National Committee, answers that question and how conservatives can win them back in our interview below.

Congratulations Skot on being our Conservative Book Club “Member of the Week!” Tell us a little about yourself and the work you do as Co-Chairman of the College Republican National Committee.

First, let me express how much of a privilege it is to be this week’s featured member.  I’m a native of Ozark, Arkansas and attended Arkansas Tech University where I received my bachelor’s degree in Emergency Administration and Management.  Aside from politics I enjoy storm chasing and working with a local animal rescue.  I currently reside in Little Rock, AR where I am the Director of Digital Media at Impact Management Group.  I spend any spare time with my two best friends, Reagan and Bush – two 3-year old golden retrievers.

As Co-Chair of the College Republican National Committee, I have spent the last two years working with College Republicans on campuses around the country to build their organizations and make a true impact among their peer groups as well as being more effective in election cycles.  It has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my life.


Storm chasing?!  What got you interested in getting involved with the College Republicans? 

My initial interest in joining the College Republicans was borne out of the desire to continue being involved after being a member of the Teenage Republicans in high school.  College Republicans was an excellent avenue to continue contributing to the GOP while also making invaluable relationships with likeminded individuals.  In hindsight, I certainly had no clue about the extent of what College Republicans would do for me both professionally and personally.


What books, authors, or conservative-themed books, influenced your political philosophy and outlook on life? 

My personal preference has always been current affairs books.  I remember in high school being the only kid who brought to school books like Winning the Future by Newt Gingrich or Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity. I still maintain this preference but I make a conscious effort to routinely read about conservatism and the ideas and principles that crafted the broader narrative.  Such books have included Up From Liberalism by William F. Buckley and Capitalism & Freedom by Milton Friedman.


I’m sure you hear all the time that young people are supposed to be Democrats and that Millennials are a lost cause for the Republican Party and the conservative movement after two huge youth vote landslide wins for Barack Obama.  How do you respond? 

My initial response is such statements are shortsighted.  Sure, Republicans performed very poorly with young voters in 2008 and 2012.  However, the center-right movement has admitted the errors of not competing for young voters and is making drastic progress in regard to effectively reaching persuadable young voters.  Research suggests that while there are discrepancies between my generation and some GOP policies, young voters actually do agree with us on a lot of issues.

Ultimately we didn’t court young voters or attempt to communicate our message in ‘08 and ’12, so got what we deserved.  But I’m confident that the GOP’s resolve to win young voters, both in the short and long term, that we’ll never find ourselves in a similar situation again.  In fact, we are already seeing the fruits of our efforts.  We enjoyed multiple victories among young voters in 2014.


What’s the plan for winning back the youth vote?

Due to an extended absence on the right’s part, winning the youth vote won’t be easy and it certainly won’t happen overnight.  However, when the GOP communicates our policy positions in culturally relevant terms in the right mediums, we see progress.  This means understanding how and where young voters communicate and having a discussion on the issues most important to them.

I believe it’s also critical to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to winning young voters.  My generation is diverse and vibrant.  We thrive on uniqueness and self-definition and instinctively reject the notion that we should “go with the flow”.  Crafting an effective youth outreach strategy must be developed around this understanding.


What are some ways young people can get involved in the political process? 

While I certainly do believe being an active member of College Republicans is one of the best avenues, I understand that some young people either, a) don’t pursue post-secondary education, or b) want to be involved in the political process yet, don’t have time to commit to a very active, partisan organization. For these individuals I would suggest simply staying informed and then exercising your right to vote.

My generation has come to age in the 24-hour news cycle so it’s natural to keep up with various, constantly changing topics.  Today, following an array of various news outlets, journalists or commentators on Twitter could be likened to that of picking up three or four different newspapers every day. And of course, voting.


 Why did you join the Conservative Book Club? How is the user experience beneficial to you? 

I joined the CBC after completing the Youth Leadership School at the Leadership Institute at the suggestion of the instructors.  It has been beneficial in exposing me to various ways to approach conservative positions and the challenges we face.  I truly appreciate the national perspective I have been exposed to, rather than just understanding what conservative means in Arkansas.



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