Hillary struggles to appeal to millennial voters

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Per a USA Today poll, Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Donald Trump among millennial voters. So…when I asked people around Michigan State University…who they were voting for, the results were predictable.

While the students I talked to knew who they were voting for, they weren’t as sure why they’re voting for Hillary Clinton. When asked what specific topics or policies are making them vote for Hillary, phrases like “I think” or “I feel” were common among millennial voters.

But when I asked them why they weren’t excited to vote for Hillary…then they had answers.

“Benghazi”

“The email scandal.”

“The tapes that were just leaked.”

“These emails.”

“The scandals and all the weird stuff-”

“Corrupt.”

“The lesser of two evils.”

Compare this with what millennials had to say about Bernie Sanders.

“I was a big Bernie fan.”

“I really, really like Bernie.”

“He was just able to like, inspire.”

The millennial voters I talked to appeared to be very reluctantly voting for Clinton, while still thinking very highly of Senator Sanders. Even though few students could name specific reasons why they liked or disliked Clinton or Sanders, they seemed to have strong personal feelings towards them. Communications professor Bill Donohue says this stems from the fact that millennial voters’ approach candidates differently than the generations that preceded them.

“The older generation just above the millennials are more cynical, and so they’re more focused on what it means to them,” Donohue said. “So it’s less of an emotional affective judgement about candidates and more about what can that person do for me, and so it’s probably more issue-based and less focused on how a candidate makes them feel.”

Specifically, Donohue says millennials are attracted to the “nurturing” nature of Bernie Sanders.

“Bernie seemed like a very honest, straight forward guy and they felt a genuine connection to his message, to the nurturing kind of message,” Donohue said. “He seemed very nurturing, grandfatherly to people and I think that’s very attractive to millennials.”

 

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