Republicans have gone from having a clear advantage among top students in the decade following the Eisenhower administration, to being competitive under the Nixon and Ford administrations, and from being an energetic minority during Reagan and Bush Sr. to being almost eradicated today.
Andresen speculates that this trend is driven by the Republican leaderships' attacks on "elitists," their cultivation of anti-science (young earth) creationists, and their encouragement of sheer falsehoods like those of the "birthers." He worries that the long-term effect will be to dry up the pool of conservative policy thinkers and people well informed about the world context in which policy has to be made.
I can testify that the recent turn of the Republican Party has made the position of Republicans at Centre College more difficult. Centre students are centrists, on the whole. There are significant numbers of moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans among the students. Town/gown relations have historically been good. Yet in the most recent elections the tone of local Republicans has taken an unpleasant turn, attacking the "elitism" of the college, charging professors with socialism, and even suggesting that students not be allowed to vote locally lest they "cancel out" the votes of local "property owners." Centre Republican leaders have been put in a difficult position by the ill-informed positions of some national party candidates and the short-sighted radicalism of the tea party wing of the Republican Party. I have seen on the ground that these well-educated and politically interested young people will have a harder time committing themselves to the Republican Party, when the party disparages people like them.
When I was in the federal Department of Education under President Reagan and Secretary Bill Bennett, it was clear that the Republicans could not field a team. In other fields - finance, and perhaps in defense - they had an informed policy makers. In education, though, and most other fields of domestic government, the Republicans did not have a body of informed people to draw on to make policy, and even fewer willing to implement it. All of the top leadership of the department were Democrats when they learned how to govern, and had only recently switched parties in order to take office.
Educated people run society, including government. A party that loses the most educated young people today will reap a poor harvest tomorrow.