Mil­len­nial vot­ers largely im­mune to Clin­ton fever

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

Mil­len­nial vot­ers largely shrugged off Hil­lary Clin­ton’s feat of be­com­ing the first wo­man to claim enough del­e­gates for a ma­jor-party pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion and con­tin­ued to stand by far-left ri­val Sen. Bernard San­ders — un­der­scor­ing the chal­lenges she con­fronts to unify the Demo­cratic Party.

The for­mer sec­re­tary of state must se­cure more than be­grudg­ing sup­port from the young Amer­i­cans who have flocked to Mr. San­ders if she hopes to win in No­vem­ber. She needs the en­thu­si­asm they in­jected into Mr. San­ders’ po­lit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion in or­der to match the grass-roots verve pro­pel­ling the can­di­dacy of her pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can ri­val, Don­ald Trump.

But her big pri­mary wins last week and vic­tory speech af­ter lock­ing up the del­e­gate tally fell flat with many San­ders fans, in­clud­ing women, on col­lege cam­puses across the coun­try.

Some­how, break­ing the glass ceil­ing didn’t pack the same punch as when Barack Obama broke the race bar­rier in 2008. The con­trast had to be irk­some for Mrs. Clin­ton, who built her cam­paign on her ap­peal to women.

Al­li­son Travers, a 22-year-old stu­dent at Queens Col­lege in New York, said she was stick­ing with Mr. San­ders de­spite the daunt­ing odds and Mrs. Clin­ton’s del­e­gate lead.

“He still has a lot of po­ten­tial as a can­di­date,” she told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “I’m happy for Hil­lary as the first wo­man to clinch the nom­i­na­tion for ei­ther party, but I think they could have cho­sen a bet­ter can­di­date.”

Ms. Travers typ­i­fies the skep­ti­cal young voter whom Mrs. Clin­ton must win over.

A lot of young women “see women in lead­er­ship po­si­tions, and they don’t nec­es­sar­ily see this as that his­toric,” said Deb­bie Walsh, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Women and Pol­i­tics at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity. “Maybe they will later on. Maybe they will when they get older and look back on it. I don’t know.”

She said mil­len­nials grew up see­ing their moth­ers work­ing out­side the home, watch­ing strong fe­male char­ac­ters on TV and ob­serv­ing women with high-level po­si­tions in gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate Amer­ica. They don’t per­ceive how many other coun­tries have elected fe­male heads of state or that women ac­count for just 25 per­cent of the mem­bers of Congress.

“They as­sume a wo­man will be elected in their life­time,” she said. “They didn’t nec­es­sar­ily think that [Mrs. Clin­ton] had to be the wo­man, and so I think the ques­tion will come as the gen­eral elec­tion comes of which of the two can­di­dates that are left, Hil­lary Clin­ton or Don­ald Trump, speaks more to the is­sues that they care about. That’s when we’ll see where they land.”

She pre­dicted that most would land in Mrs. Clin­ton’s camp, but mostly be­cause of their dis­like of Mr. Trump and not their af­fec­tion for the Demo­cratic can­di­date.

That’s a ma­jor rea­son why party in­sid­ers are con­vinced young vot­ers, who were a ma­jor force be­hind Mr. Obama’s two White House wins, will even­tu­ally move to Mrs. Clin­ton. Mr. Obama won 66 per­cent of vot­ers ages 18 to 29 in 2008 and cap­tured 60 per­cent of the same group in his 2012 re-elec­tion win.

Demo­cratic lead­ers also are ea­ger for Mr. San­ders to end his run and usher his sup­port­ers into Mrs. Clin­ton’s camp.

“They are wait­ing for di­rec­tion from him,” said Clin­ton sup­porter Man­nie Ro­driguez, a Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber from Colorado. “He should drop out for the sake of the party.”

The sen­ti­ment grew stronger when Mr. Trump ap­pealed to dis­af­fected San­ders vot­ers in his own speech last Tues­day night to con­sider sup­port­ing him in the gen­eral elec­tion. “We wel­come you with open arms,” Mr. Trump said.

Clin­ton sup­port­ers stressed that when she lost a bru­tal pri­mary fight to Mr. Obama in 2008, she en­dorsed her for­mer ri­val and ral­lied her troops be­hind him.

“These things don’t hap­pen overnight,” said Demo­cratic strate­gist Craig Varoga. “But I’m 100 per­cent sure that in the fi­nal anal­y­sis, San­ders will do what is right for the coun­try in terms of sup­port­ing her and op­pos­ing Trump. I think that many of his fol­low­ers will find that quite per­sua­sive.” But some mil­len­nials re­main am­biva­lent. Abby Cullen, a 23-year-old pro­fes­sional from Ok­la­homa, said he and his sis­ter were ready to leave the Demo­cratic Party given the way their can­di­date was treated in the nom­i­nat­ing process.

“We feel like the party has failed us by the mind-bog­gling amount of bias that has oc­curred,” he said. “So, no, I will not be sup­port­ing the Demo­cratic Party af­ter this elec­tion un­less some­thing dras­ti­cally changes.”

Still, Mr. Cullen said, he would prob­a­bly end up vot­ing for Mrs. Clin­ton in No­vem­ber to block Mr. Trump from the White House.

Mrs. Clin­ton has cam­paigned on many of the same themes as Mr. San­ders, in­clud­ing in­come in­equal­ity, col­lage af­ford­abil­ity and Wall Street re­form, al­though she never fully em­braced all of the far-left poli­cies of the sen­a­tor from Ver­mont, a self-de­scribed demo­cratic so­cial­ist.

Mr. San­ders has vowed to press on through the fi­nal pri­mary con­test in the District of Columbia this week and on to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in July in Philadel­phia. But he markedly toned down his rhetoric af­ter los­ing a hard-fought pri­mary in Cal­i­for­nia.

Mr. San­ders was to meet with Mr. Obama at the White House, where the pres­i­dent is ex­pected to prod him to be­gin mend­ing the party and help­ing for­tify Mrs. Clin­ton for a gen­eral elec­tion bat­tle.

“I think the tone of his re­marks [Tues­day] night were such that we have con­fi­dence that in due time we will be able to unite this party and fo­cus on the gen­eral elec­tion,” Clin­ton cam­paign spokesman Brian Fal­lon said on MSNBC. “There is a mu­tual recog­ni­tion on the party of Sen. San­ders and Sec­re­tary Clin­ton that no mat­ter what hap­pens, we have to work to­gether to make sure Don­ald Trump does not ever occupy the White House.”

Emma Pat­ton and Erica Bros­nan con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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