How "cancel culture" became an issue for young Republicans

Additionally, while we need look no further than former President Donald Trump to understand just how powerful a political message centered on grievance or perceived threats to one’s social status can be — especially when linked to issues of white identity — its appeal is not limited to older voters. Younger Republicans are also likely to say that they fear they will be ostracized for their political views. According to Vladimir Medenica, a political science professor at the University of Delaware and research consultant for the GenFoward Survey, (a national bimonthly survey of young adults age 18 to 36), younger Republicans are often far more liberal than older Republicans on many social issues. But, he said, “When we zoom out and think about a more macro-level or structural understanding of society, a lot of young whites look a lot like older whites in their fears of losing status or access in society.”

And many young Republicans are white. In fact, the largest bloc of young Republicans (ages 18 to 29) are white men, according to a 2018 survey from Tuft University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which found that among young voters, white men were the only racial or gender group to align with the GOP in the midterms. This is important because polling by the Public Religion Research Institute, also from 2018, found that 55 percent of young white men (ages 15 to 24) think that discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against Black people and other minority groups. In fact, almost half said in that poll that diversity efforts will harm white people.

In other words, a core part of the younger GOP base is really concerned that they’ll lose their status in society.

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