Presidential Campaign

3 ways Hillary Clinton can capture the youth vote

As voters head to the primary polls in Pennsylvania, Maryland and a few other states, it seems clear that former Secretary State Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. But with her huge victory in the New York primary and a large pledged and superdelegate lead, there is still one thing missing from her campaign: a strong millennial outreach strategy. 

{mosads}Clinton’s rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), doesn’t have the delegate lead, but he most definitely has captured the heart and minds of America’s youth. While Clinton won overwhelmingly among older voters this past Tuesday, she was crushed by Sanders when it came to those under the age of 29. According to CNN exit polls, Sanders won 72 percent of voters ages 18 to 29; Clinton had a meager 28 percent.

The generational divide between Clinton and Sanders is real, long lasting, and has been the trend throughout this elongated primary cycle. And to be honest, this trend has left a lot of millennials wondering if Clinton plans on ever reaching out to them.

In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama counted on young voters to carry him over the top in the general election. According to exit polls, Obama would have lost both Indiana and North Carolina without young voters. For Obama, millennials not only provided their votes, but many enthusiastic campaign volunteers. Some helped persuade parents and older relatives to consider Obama. And a survey of Obama voters found that young voters were far more likely to attend campaign events than their older counterparts, and nearly one in 10 donated money to his campaign.

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

Our nation needs Clinton to win this election, or many of the victories won under President Obama will be washed away by the strike of Ted Cruz’s or Donald Trump’s pen. Here is what the Clinton campaign can do to improve its standing among our nation’s biggest and most diverse generation: 

1. Challenge the status quo of Washington politics and escape the “going along to get along” mentality. As the market continues to fail in providing fair and equal pay to job-seeking young Americans, millennials are looking to Washington for help. While the economy has seen significant recovery since the recession, everyday working Americans and the up-and-coming youth of the nation are not seeing this growth reflected in their paychecks or disposable income. Clinton represents the establishment politician, with the same policies that have continued the stagnation in our country. If she wants to capture the youth vote, she must begin to separate herself from this ideology.

2. Embrace revolutionary rhetoric on college loans and tuition. Much of Sanders’s success in attracting youth voters has come from his policy plans for college tuition and loans, as well as affordable housing for young Americans. Sanders has rallied millions of millennials around the idea of free tuition at public universities, while Clinton has largely stuck to her policies that look to shift interest rates for student loans. However, as the overwhelming portion of statistics show, fiddling with interest rates will only have a marginal effect in the greater scheme of things. As college students continue to rack up more and more college debt over the years, America’s youths are desperate for revolutionary policy proposals like Sanders’s. Clinton’s policies and her reluctance to take a harder stance on college tuition continue to prohibit her ability to catch the attention and admiration of America’s millennial generation.

3. Stop pushing experience; start pushing real change. One of Clinton’s central talking points throughout this election has been her irrefutable experience in Washington and in the public sector. While this is all well and good when appealing to older, less disenfranchised demographics, Clinton’s experience does not appeal to America’s youth. We understand that she has spent many years in various upper-level positions in the political realm, but how does this separate her from the establishment politicians who have failed to deliver supportive policies for young Americans? It doesn’t. Sanders, on the other hand, while seemingly less experienced, has continued to push the same revolutionary message for over 30 years. This fact has become increasingly more recognized as videos continue to surface on the social media of a young Bernie Sanders calling for taxation on the top 1 percent and free tuition at public universities. For Hillary Clinton to effectively gain the support of millennials, she must move away from her claims of experience and start providing substantive policies that appeal to the concerns of the nation’s young voters.

Fowler is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Richard Fowler Show,” which can also be viewed on YouTube as an affiliate of The Young Turks network. He appears regularly on Fox News, MSNBC and C-SPAN. He is also a senior fellow for the New Leaders Council. Follow him on Twitter @RichardAFowler.

Otis Selib contributed to the writing of this article.

Tags 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton millenial Ted Cruz Young voters Youth

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