As a rule, young voters vote on idealism while older voters take a more cautious, world-weary approach. That leads to two observations:
- In current US politics race is an issue that splits heavily on idealism: equal rights, equal treatment under the law, and equal opportunity vs. deep-seated racially-tinged fears, resentments, and social norms.
- Republicans as a group have aligned heavily against racial idealism, opposing pro-minority social change even to the point of resurgent segregationism.
In fact, Republicans currently oppose anything that smacks of philosophical idealism, deriding it as 'communist', 'woke', or 'Liberal'. While some of the more far-right, white-nationalist elements of modern conservatism have tried to build a positive ideal around a defense of the nation's historical values — which draws in some youth, e.g. Carl Rittenhouse — the GOP as a party has merely adopted a world-weary, fear-driven, unromantic posture that has little appeal to the idealism of youth. Democrats (particularly under Obama) have made much more effort to reach for that visionary, utopian moment, so it's no wonder that they pick up the lion's share of young voters.
The current conservative approach to capturing the youth vote leans more towards content control than inspiration: think DeSantis and his attempts to censor textbooks, school programs, and public speech to prevent the dissemination of 'woke' ideology... But that only goes so far, preventing youth from hearing about these ideals without actually giving them new ideals to reach for. That kind of censorship is ultimately self-defeating unless paired with an active campaign of indoctrination, which hasn't yet manifested in the Right.