Only a third of millennials identify as Republican, while almost half identify as Democratic, according to a 2014 Pew Research survey.
For Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and a millennial herself, that’s bad news. She worries that Republicans will be left behind if they don’t update their message and some of their beliefs.
In her upcoming book The Selfie Vote, Anderson puts forward several ideas to win back younger voters. “The world is changing very quickly,” she said in an interview with TIME. “Republicans should not fear this change. They should embrace it.”
Here are five things the GOP should do, according to Anderson.
1. Understand millennials’ views on faith and the family
Anderson says a crucial divide between millennials and traditional Republicans is in how they view family. The conservative definition of family hinges on heterosexuality and marriage, whereas millennials tend to be comfortable with any arrangement of people taking care of a child, regardless of gender or marital status.
Anderson says understanding the millennial perspective on family will be key to developing a modern form of social conservatism. “I think if we talk about the importance of people in families taking care of each other across generations, regardless of gender, and that that is this critical cornerstone of our society, I think that’s not an off-putting message,” Anderson says. “I think when we say we want to define how family ought to look in a traditional way, that’s when we begin to lose where young people are at.”
She also says Republicans needs to account for the fact that millennials still have faith but are less formally religious, are more diverse and tend to live in more urban areas than previous generations.
2. Promote Republican ideals that will appeal to millennials
Conservatives may be disconnected from millennials on some social issues, but Anderson says many Republican ideals fit well with the problems millennials are currently facing. She says the party needs to appeal to millennials’ sense of entrepreneurship by talking about deregulation, and that discussions of pay-for-performance and being efficient with government money will also resonate with young voters.
“Republicans can look to some of our nation’s cities to find plentiful examples of big government, union power, and overregulation gone terribly awry, where young residents are looking for choices, efficiency, and technology to solve the problems they face,” Anderson writes in her book.
3. Address the student loan crisis
Rising student debt is a pressing issue for millennials. Democrats often try to more heavily subsidize loans, while Republicans often focus on plans that change the way loans are repaid. But Anderson says the key for the Republican party to help the millennials is to cut back on student loans in the first place by promoting alternative forms of higher education, such as online colleges and MOOCs (massive open online courses).
“Championing technology as a way to create greater choice, greater cost savings, and better learning in America is an obvious step Republicans can take to help young people, all the while shedding the image of being the party of the past,” Anderson writes.
4. Reach out to minority voters
Less than half the babies born between 2012 and 2013 were white non-Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau. “If Republicans are to draw their votes primarily from the pool of white voters in America, they are simply on an unsustainable path,” Anderson writes.
She says there are certain policy issues that can help Republicans with minority voters, namely criminal justice reform and immigration reform. But she says the biggest problem with Republicans outside of white voters is the perception that the party does not promote equal opportunities for all people. Anderson says there are three steps Republicans must take to alter this perception: “Showing up. Listening… [And] identifying the mixed perceptions about your agenda and your policy and identifying the ways that your ideas make perfect sense.”
“I would love to see more Republicans running for office going to events in places they’re not used to going,” she says. “Don’t just do the event at the country club and the town hall with your base supporters.”
5. Get on Snapchat
None of the previous four steps will ever reach millennial voters unless Republicans work on step five: marketing. Anderson says the party needs to get much more creative and incorporate technology and apps in how they distribute their political ads.
Talking about Snapchat and Instagram, Anderson says Republicans need to start “letting people have constant access into the personal side of your campaign, not the manicured soft focus ad type stuff, but the really authentic, real live behind the scenes type stuff.”
So which 2016 candidates does Anderson think would best appeal to millennial voters? She admits her bias as a Floridian before saying Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. “I think through Rubio’s very explicit generational message that he’s used so far, and through Jeb Bush’s attempt to really focus on how can conservatism be used as a tool for reform, I think both of those messages have very strong potential.”
“I don’t think young people are a lost cause, especially this time around,” she says. “Not only is it possible for us to make progress before 2016, I think we have to make progress before 2016. I think if another presidential election goes by where we are losing young voters by 20+ points, where we have failed to build up a base of support amongst this younger generation, I think we are one election then further cementing this really troublesome fate for the GOP.”