While some young conservatives disagree with the Republican Party’s stance on marriage equality and abortion rights, students identifying with the GOP said they are more focused on voting for the candidate they think is best suited to stabilize the economy.
Members of the University’s chapter of College Republicans said while many college-aged Republicans may not share the same social values as Romney, his platform — focused on reducing taxes, government programs, spending and regulation, while increasing trade, energy production and labor market flexibility — is critical to fostering a stronger nation.
LSA senior Jared Boot, the chair of Students for Romney at the University and a member of College Republicans, said students should make the economy a priority in choosing a candidate to vote for in November.
“In this election cycle, the economic crisis should be the thing that students are voting on — it’s what I’m voting on,” Boot said.
Boot recently spoke out in support of gay students supporting the GOP during the first appearance of the College Republicans at Gayz Craze on Sept. 2, an annual event held at the beginning of the year by the LGBT Issues Commission of Central Student Government.
“I’ve had people come up to me on campus and say, ‘I’m fiscally conservative and I lean toward being a hawk on foreign policy issues, but I’m gay,’” Boot said earlier in the month. “For me, that’s really discouraging that people would be turned away because of that.”
LSA senior Rachel Jankowski, the chair of the College Republicans, echoed Boot’s sentiments on the importance of economic affairs in the upcoming election.
“I think the number one issue for me is definitely the economy,” Jankowski said.
With September reports of unemployment rates at 8.2 percent, students have continued to express anxiety about the inability to find jobs in their field after graduation, a critical issue for Boot.
“The most important thing for me is to be able to find a job and have a successful future,” Boot said.
Russ Hayes, an LSA junior and member of College Republicans, said a candidate’s stance on how to improve the job market is a vital consideration point for him.
“I’m more interested in voting for someone who’s at least nominally interested in improving my generation’s job prospects and presenting a real plan that can resolve the debt the previous generation racked up,” Hayes said.
Though some student Republicans said they have accepted the social stance of the party platform for this election, they added they are hopeful for a change in the GOP’s position on certain social issues in the future.
Hayes said the Republican Party is evolving on social issues, specifically by diversifying its membership.
“We’ve got folks across the spectrum representing the party — look at Richard Tisei, who’s running for Congress in Massachusetts,” Hayes said. “He’s a gay Republican who’s emphasized his focus on representing the people of Massachusetts, not on being a caricature.”
Zoey Kotzambasis — vice president of the University of Arizona’s chapter of the College Republicans who was recently featured in The New York Times as an example of an emerging Republican voter — said while she is socially liberal, she is fiscally conservative, which is why she will be voting for Romney in November.
“The biggest issues that I align with (Romney) on are primarily economic … job creation, and also taxes and fiscal responsibility, especially spending,” Kotzambasis said in an interview.
Kotzambasis suggested it might benefit the Republican Party to reconsider its social platform.
“I don’t think that it is right for (Republicans) to champion freedom and liberty in the economic sector and the private sector with businesses, but to not also champion that in social issues,” Kotzambasis said. “I think it’s kind of contradictory. If you’re championing freedom, it should be in every aspect.”
LSA junior Margot McGowan Staebler, who identifies as a Democrat, said social issues are very important to her this election year and will play a significant part in her decision to vote for Obama.
“In fact, that’s probably my biggest set of issues with the Romney-Ryan ticket,” Staebler said. “I believe in a woman’s right to choose … it should be a personal choice, not a government-mandated policy.”
Staebler said she disagreed with nearly every social stance Romney has taken and expects Obama to earn the majority of the youth vote.
“I think that social issues, such as LGBTQ rights, abortion law, etc. will play a big role in this election, particularly with the youth vote,” Staebler said.