Outside of a handful of tight states that feel under siege, the Republican Party has no relevance to young people other than as a blocking force. It’s silly to use the Alex Keaton example to predict that teenagers today will turn to the GOP in reaction to a dysfunctional government.
The main thing about the Southern Strategy is that is was a complete revamping of the Republican Party. It took advantage of an opening the Democrats created by going against the interests of its own strongest base in the South. For the Republicans to repeat such a performance, they would have to identify a huge Democratic constituency that feels betrayed and poach them, but there are no large Democratic constituencies available to poach today.
Teenagers may be too young to remember the energy and promise of Obama’s 2008 campaign, and they may be disappointed with the gridlock in Washington that has taken hold ever since the 2010 midterms, but they do not agree with the Republican Party on anything. At best, they may conclude that Congress is inept and ineffectual, but that isn’t a condition that they are likely to endorse.
It should be remembered that the Republican Party became ascendant under Reagan by completely remaking itself, not by somehow winning with the same old arguments. If the GOP were to suddenly rebrand itself in a way that made it the party of choice for New Englanders, it would have the potential to repeat the success it enjoyed in the 1980’s. Short of that, they’re going to become a regional party that gets thumped in presidential elections.