Skip to main content

Can Hillary Clinton Win Young Voters?

In early June, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders was defiantly pushing forward with his campaign despite calls to drop out and support Hillary Clinton.

Now Sanders has transitioned to full support mode, letting key staffers go from his campaign so they can work for the Clinton camp during the general election, according to Politico. More Sanders staffers are expected to transfer from Vermont to Brooklyn in the coming weeks, as Clinton's camp absorbs the talent and strategies that helped Sanders push the primary contest further than most people thought he could.

For Clinton, it's a chance to finally unify the party and attempt to reconcile her corporate-sponsored, Wall Street-friendly campaign with the anti-establishment progressivism of Sanders' most passionate supporters. Along the way, as Politico notes, the former Secretary of State will keep her eye on one of the biggest prizes that could come from cooperating with Sanders -- the support of millions of young voters who flocked to him.

And it's not just staffers -- Sanders himself could be "deployed" in the coming months as Clinton runs a general election campaign against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“They’re discussing all these things now, and once they figure it out, that’s what he’ll be doing," Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Sanders, told Politico.

Courting young voters is key, according to political analysts, because they're now a bigger demographic than the Baby Boomer generation, with some 75 million potential voters falling into the "millenials" category.

And although Trump can be abrasive, offensive and blunt, he's a savvy social media user who reaches millions on Twitter and is known to tens of millions through his reality TV show, "The Apprentice."

While older voters know Trump as a businessman and real estate mogul who owns parts of Manhattan's skyline, as well as resorts and casinos, the Republican has name recognition across all demographics.

“Where he has a distinct advantage, he’ll find untraditional ways to get into their stream of life that could impact and help him at least resonate,” Zac Moffatt, the former digital director for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid, told Politico.

Clinton hopes to counter that, experts say, by adopting the campaigning techniques of the Sanders campaign, and by trotting out young celebrities like "Girls" writer Lena Dunham and pop star Katy Perry. The former Secretary of State also expects to have President Barack Obama join her at some of her bigger campaign events.

But it wasn't so long ago that Clinton was maligning young voters, as well as Sanders supporters. In early April, she was criticized by former Obama advisor David Axelrod after she seemed to disparage younger voters.

“There is a persistent, organized effort to misrepresent my record, and I don’t appreciate that, and I feel sorry for a lot of the young people who are fed this list of misrepresentations,” Clinton told Politico in the April 6 interview. “I know that Sen. Sanders spends a lot of time attacking my husband, attacking President Obama. I rarely hear him say anything negative about George W. Bush, who I think wrecked our economy.”

In late April, liberal radio host Richard Fowler outlined key areas where Clinton could appeal to the younger generation, said The Hill. Among them: Clinton should stop touting her experience constantly, Fowler argued, and alter her message so it echoes the optimistic speeches that Obama used to court young voters. And Clinton could score easy points by embracing some of the ideas Sanders has been pushing for the past year, most notably on college loans and tuition, he said.

"What Obama's presidential campaigns have taught us," Fowler argued, "is that millennials, if courted, can provide the necessary enthusiasm to take a campaign over the top in the Electoral College."

Sources: Politico (2), The Hill / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Popular Video