Millennials are excited about Hillary Clinton, but after a childhood spent in the throes of the anti-Clinton smear machine, will they get out and vote for her?
As the election draws near, polls are showing Millennials have finally coalesced behind Hillary Clinton. In fact, it can safely be said that Clinton is pulverizing Donald Trump with the 18-35 year-old demographic.
Here are the numbers:
According to a recent USA Today/Rock the Vote poll, 68% of Millennials support Clinton. This number beats the record set by President Obama 2008 (66%) and 2012 (67%).
Meanwhile only 20% of Millennials support Trump. (This is the lowest any candidate has polled with this age demographic, ever. The closest was Bob Dole who in 1996 had 30%.) The rest of Millennials are split among Gary Johnson with 8%, Jill Stein with 1% and the remaining 3% undecided.
According to a UMASSLowell/Odyssey poll, 39% of Millennials said they’d prefer Barack Obama to be President for life. This poll also says a quarter of Millennials would prefer a meteor strike to this crop of candidates.
On the bright side, Millennials who cast their first vote for America’s first black president, will have a chance to make history again in just their second go-round by voting for America’s first woman President. Also, according to the Atlantic, this election will be the first in which the Millennials make up as large a portion of American voters as the Baby Boomers.
So, although this undoubtedly feels like a validating achievement of sorts for Hillary, scoring Millennial support threatens to amount to somewhat of a paycheck you can’t cash. You worked for the support. You earned it. But now that you’ve got it, is it any good?
Pollsters say enthusiasm among millennials to actually get out and vote began falling in March, before Bernie Sanders even stepped aside.
Also, some millennials say they are pro-Hillary simply because they are afraid of a Trump presidency.
Therefore, they may feel they are doing their part simply by abstaining from casting a vote for Trump. In that case, the real heavy lifting becomes trying to persuade voters to take the initiative to go out and actively cast a vote for Hillary.
Perhaps this prompted First Lady Michelle Obama’s appeal to students at a rally at Southern New Hampshire University recently.
“We cannot afford to be tired or turned off,” she said. “And we cannot afford to stay home on Election Day.”
This is not to say that, as a group, Millennials appear to be apathetic and/or uninvolved. Quite the contrary, easily accessible information and social media, combined with coming-of-age within a tumultuous and uncertain economy has produced an aware, politically-minded, activist-oriented generation. However the constant gridlock, hyper-partisanship and atmosphere of relentless doublespeak rhetoric has made them wary of politicians before they’re even old enough to vote.
So its no wonder they flocked to this authentic, scandal-free, lesser-known man with a decidedly unpolished look and wild hair, named Bernie. A man who spoke in real terms to all of the inequities, fears and injustices they’d grown up hearing about from their parents. These parents, being Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, who had themselves grown up in a time of 50s-80s economic security and were themselves confused as to how all of that had disintegrated around them.
By all accounts, Millennials tend to hold liberal views, philosophically and politically. Support for overall equality as well as recognition and acceptance for the LGBTQ community isn’t even a question. Socialism is not in any way the dirty word it has been for older generations. (According to a recent report, 45% of 16 to 20-year-olds said they would vote for a Socialist, while 21% would vote for a Communist.)
Millennials know the economy favors those at the top and that a college education comes with a guarantee of a near lifetime’s worth of debt. They care about the environment and lament on the fact that they will be the ones to suffer the most from the damaging and careless policies of today. Policies that they know are the result of a bought-and sold, corporate-owned government.
That said, although Bernie’s out of the picture, he’s hard on the stump for Hillary, as are the wildly popular Michelle and Barack Obama — along with liberal powerhouse Elizabeth Warren and just about everyone else frankly, so logic would seem to dictate that the Millennial vote for Clinton would be in the bag. And, while statistics do bear that out, we are again faced with the looming enthusiasm gap that stops some Millennials just short of placing their ballot in the box.
In January, 55% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “There are better ways to make a difference than voting.” Now 62% endorse that sentiment. At the beginning of the year, 37% said, “My vote doesn’t really matter.” Now 46% feel that way.
Among those who are undecided or don’t plan to vote, two-thirds say the reason isn’t because voting doesn’t matter or because they’re not interested in politics. Instead, they say it is because “I don’t like any of the candidates.”
So where does this come from?
Consider the fact that the Millennial childhood has taken place in an environment saturated with the atmosphere and rhetoric of the anti-Clinton smear machine. The 18-35 demographic were too young to decipher through the porridge-thick haze of years of Republican-manufactured “scandals” extolled by Fox News and right-wing talk radio; and it, as a matter of course, became a brick-solid layer of their political foundations.
So as adults they are wary of the Clinton’s although when pressed on specifics, few are quite sure exactly as to why that is. To be fair, this is the case with Clinton-haters of all ages, but with Millennials, Clinton distrust is something they learned in their formative years.
To be sure, the comparison of Trump has undoubtedly changed their perspective, as the polls indicate. But things you learn as a child don’t fade easily if at all. This ingrained leaning on the part of Millennials could be something that comes back to haunt Hillary if and when she faces an actual, sane opponent.
The good news is, if (when) Hillary is elected, she will only face one more election in her lifetime.
The bad news is, this influential, years-in-the-making, anti-Clinton movement has the potential to tarnish such a hard-fought, historical event as the centuries-awaited, first female Presidency of the United States, and for no good reason.
Featured Image: Hillary Clinton Facebook Page