Where Ted Cruz Stands on 6 Issues Young Voters Care About

March 23rd 2015

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has been in talks to run for president for a while, but he made it official Monday morning with this tweet:

It's significant to note that Cruz also made his announcement at Liberty University on Monday. According to the New York Times, attendance to the speech was mandatory for students. Making his big statement before a university community sends the message he might be trying to reach out to more young people, a group he hasn't successfully engaged. A recent Millennial poll conducted by Fusion revealed that Cruz isn't very popular among young voters, even in the GOP. Out of 1,000 survey responders, just 8 percent of self-described Republicans voiced approval for Cruz. It's also telling that he used Twitter, a social media platform adored by Millennials everywhere, to announce his run for president.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year, Cruz acknowledged that young people, among others, are important to winning the election, "The way we get to 51 percent is we bring together conservatives and libertarians and evangelicals, and women and young people and Hispanics and Reagan Democrats." Some have drawn similarities with Cruz's views to libertarianism, a popular ideology among young college males, but many libertarians have spoken in favor of Senator Rand Paul over Cruz, as Paul is more well-known for his libertarian platforms. 

As the election nears, Cruz might find himself trying to appeal to more young voters. Here is where Cruz stands on issues that are particularly important to Millennials (ATTN: reached out to the Cruz campaign multiple times and is still awaiting a response).

1. Marijuana legalization

Cruz himself has used marijuana before, but that doesn't mean he'll do it or lobby for it now. His spokesperson told the Daily Mail earlier this year that he regrets using the drug as an adolescent, "When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he's never tried it since."

Though he isn't a legalization champion, he does believe in a state's right to choose how to move forward on the matter. Speaking about Colorado's decision to legalize marijuana at the 2015 CPAC, Cruz said, "Look, I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called 'the laboratories of democracy.' If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right." 

As ATTN: reported earlier this month, the majority of Millennials support legalization. Results from a recent Pew Research Center study show that 63 percent of young Republicans want marijuana to become legal. As more states begin to legalize pot and acknowledge its potential mental health benefits, Cruz's opposition will be harder for young people in his party to grasp. 

2. Marriage equality

Last year, support for same-sex marriages soared to 55 percent in the U.S., according to a Gallup poll. As to be expected, younger people were the biggest cheerleaders for same-sex marriage. Republicans still fall behind Democrats in supporting gay marriage, but Gallup reported that Republican support for gay marriage (30 percent) has almost doubled since the polling question began in 1996. Results from a Pew Research Center poll last year found that more than 60 percent of young Republicans support gay marriage. Cruz, however, stands for marriage between a man and a woman but thinks each state should be able to decide how to define the union. 

"Listen, I'm a constitutionalist," Cruz said during a recent TV interview with comedian Seth Meyers. "For over 200 years, marriage has been a question for the states. Now, personally, I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, but if you want to change the marriage laws, the way to do it constitutionally is convince your fellow citizens, go to the state legislature, and change it. It shouldn't be the federal government or unelected judges imposing their own definition of marriage — we should instead respect our constitutional system."

3. Student loan reform

“Student aid is critically important,” Cruz said in 2012 amid criticism that his proposal to scrap the U.S. Department of Education would potentially hurt college loan programs. “In my life, education opened doors for my parents and for me that never would’ve been opened.”

Cruz himself understands the stress of student loans. It wasn't until a few years ago that the 44-year-old finally paid off $100,000 in loan debt. At the Liberty University speech Monday, Cruz noted his parents' humble upbringings to illustrate how far people can come in the United States, "Imagine a little girl [his mother] growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, during World War II, the daughter of Irish and Italian Catholic family, working class. Imagine a teenage boy [his father], not much younger than many of you here today, growing up in Cuba. Jet-black hair, skinny as a rail. Imagine another teenage boy [Cruz], being raised in Houston, hearing stories from his dad about prison and torture in Cuba, hearing stories about how fragile liberty is, beginning to study the United States Constitution, learning about the incredible protections we have in this country that protect the God-given liberty of every American." 

During his U.S. Department of Education proposal in 2012, Cruz said states should choose how to use student aid funds, "We should take the funding, give it to the states and put the states in the position to make the decisions how to have the greatest impact in their communities."

With higher levels of student debt and lower earnings than their 1980s counterparts, Millennials will likely want a president invested in education affordability so they don't walk into post-graduate jobs with massive amounts of debt to pay off.

4. Healthcare

Cruz has never been a fan of Obamacare, and he reiterated his hope to end it during his speech at Liberty, "Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who've lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare. Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable."

It looks like Cruz and Millennials share this opinion of Obamacare. A 2013 poll from the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government found that more than half of Millennials disapproved of Obama's healthcare reform policies that went into place several years ago. However, this was a jump from a 2010 Pew Research Center poll that found 47 percent of Millennials supported healthcare reform.

5. Jobs

In the 2012 presidential election, Cruz anticipated that another term under Obama would keep the federal balance sheet a "train wreck," arguing that the private sector is the answer to jobs, "This administration thinks government creates jobs. I understand fully well that there is only one thing that creates jobs, and that is the private sector."

Cruz has his own leadership PAC, Jobs Growth & Freedom Fun, which aims to "unleash the free-market, create new jobs and restore the constitution." Last week, Cruz and Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine introduced the American Energy Renaissance Act in an attempt to "empower the private sector to create good-paying American jobs, spur economic growth and expand opportunity." The Act vows to end the crude oil export ban in order to increase "export opportunities that could produce good paying private sector jobs in the United States," exclude expensive, job-costing greenhouse gas regulations, and leave fracking regulations up to states. 

Millennials could definitely use more jobs. Last year, a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report found that 51.9 percent of young people ages 16 to 24 were employed. It was an increase from 50.7 percent the year prior to that, but many Millennials also suffer from underemployment, which makes full financial dependence a real challenge for them. Nearly 15 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents while they pay off student loans, look for work, and attempt to build up a savings. 

6. Immigration reform

Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant and has said this shaped his own beliefs on reform, "In my opinion, if we allow those who are here illegally to be put on a path to citizenship, that is incredibly unfair to those who follow the rules."

Cruz's father has also said on the matter, "I came to this country legally. I came here with a legal visa, and ... every step of the way, I have been here legally."

Matt Barreto, a co-founder of Latino Decisions, told Fusion that Cruz's views aren't as charitable as they could be towards the Latino population, “Ted Cruz has taken such a hardline stance against immigration reform that he is likely to push the GOP towards more problems with Latinos, not fewer. He has been unwilling to compromise at all, and unwilling to show any compassion for immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life for their family, just like his family did." 

Late last year, Fusion published a Millennial poll that found only 17 percent of young Hispanics felt the GOP represented their opinions on immigration. Millennials as a whole tend to be more accepting of immigration than their older counterparts, according to research from academic Morley Winograd and retired exec at communications research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, Michael D. Hais. Their findings, which they compiled into a book, revealed that Millennials often look at immigration through a personal lens, as nearly one out of five of them have at least one immigrant parent. More than a quarter of them are Asian or Hispanic as well. They're also more likely to agree that undocumented immigrants will do work that many Americans won't. 

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