The Democratic candidates challenge with millennials is not Trump its Sanders supporters who would either pick a third-party candidate or not vote
Hillary Clinton needs millennials, and her best hope at winning them over might be the septuagenarian they tried to elect.
Bernie Sanders, the beloved leader of the nations leftwing movement, appeared alongside his former rival at a university gymnasium in New Hampshire on Wednesday and issued an urgent appeal to disillusioned young voters: It is imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton.
Millennials have long eluded Clinton, who lost the youth vote in the primaries to Sanders by blowout margins. Even though many of his supporters have migrated to Clintons campaign, polls show she is still well below Barack Obamas share of millennials in 2012 despite their disdain for her opponent, Donald Trump.
Michael Giordano will be one of the youngest voters to cast a ballot this election, but he hasnt made up his mind about who he will vote for.
The high school senior, who turns 18 this week, attended the event about college affordability in New Hampshire to see Sanders, who he had hoped to vote for in November. Giordano said he is very concerned by the prospect of a Trump presidency but is wary of Clinton.
I feel like at first there was more of an emotional block for me, that she didnt seem as passionate and seemed more rehearsed, said Giordano. But in the debate, I think to counteract Donald Trump she showed herself to be more relatable.
Giordano said he is inching toward Clinton but hasnt ruled out a third-party vote. He is nonetheless mindful of the candidate he doesnt want to see become president.
Paradoxically, millennials are a group she should do well with. The giant voting bloc now estimated to number nearly 70 million are the most diverse generation in American history. They tend to be more progressive, inclusive and share remarkably similar views about the Republican nominee. Nearly 75% of millennials believe Trump is racist and 71% say they would be ashamed of their country if he was elected, according to a battleground state survey of millennials for NextGen Climate, a liberal group run by Clinton supporter Tom Steyer.
Theres little danger that Clinton will lose millennials to Trump, who trails in this age group by double digits. Her real challenge is to keep disaffected young people from leaving the Democratic party or staying home on 8 November.
In a tight race like this one is shaping up to be, said Andrew Baumann, a Democratic pollster the senior vice-president of Global Strategy Group, which conducted the survey. The difference between Clinton winning 50%, 55% and 60% could be the difference between her winning the election or not.
In a race between Clinton and Trump, nearly a quarter of millennials said they would not vote for president and in a race between all four candidates, 17% said they would vote for a third-party candidate, according to the millennial survey.
That a large swath of millennials find Clinton, who would be the nations first female president, uninspiring is partly Sanders fault, Baumann said.
For many of these young voters, their introduction to Hillary Clinton has been through the prism of Bernie Sanders, and that wasnt exactly a very positive one, he said.
During the primary, the Vermont senator painted Clinton as a fixture of the very political establishment his revolution promised to overthrow. He hammered her over the richly paid speeches she made in front of big banks, which fueled a narrative among his supporters that she is bought and paid for by Wall Street.
But now, as the star of the progressive movement goes to bat for Clinton, that image has, for some, begun to fade.
Weve seen Secretary Clinton start to adopt the messaging of Bernie Sanders, said Ben OKeefe, 22, of MoveOn.org, a progressive group that backed Sanders in the primary. Thats not a coincidence and thats not something we should ever fault her for. Shes listening to us. Thats what we should want in a presidential candidate.
Trumps candidacy is built on the idea that he can run up the score with groups like older voters, so Clinton needs to be able to rely on a cushion among groups like millennials, said Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and author of The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials are Leading America.
If millennials dont find her to be adequately inspiring, theres a chance that many of them decide to wash their hands of this whole election.
Millennials are such a large voting bloc that increasing their support by 10 points could theoretically double her two-point lead against Trump in national polls, said Ben Tulchin, the pollster for Sanders campaign. The margin could be enough to cushion her in battleground states like North Carolina, Nevada and Colorado.