Millennial Viewpoint: Clinton Winning Big But Not With Younger Females


Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally for women at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan on April 18. Although leading in votes and delegates, she trails behind rival Bernie Sanders when it comes to support from millennial women.

Last summer, many Americans probably thought Hillary Clinton had the women’s vote in the bag assuming the support of all female Democrats was a given. Since Clinton is the only woman seeking the Democratic nomination, it seemed apparent millennial women would rush to give her their votes. Everyone got it wrong.

Although Clinton is ahead in both primary votes and delegates, rival Bernie Sanders has come up on top when it comes to millennial female support.

“Clinton has aggressively reached out to young women with the promise of breaking a glass ceiling that the women’s movement has worked for decades to shatter. The newest generation of feminists is responding with a shrug,” writes Los Angeles Times reporter Evan Halper.

Sanders’ greater appeal to young Democratic female voters can be explained by a few things. Primarily, Sanders’ overall vibe is something Millennials support and understand. To put it simply, he comes off as genuine and committed to his values. On the other hand, Clinton tried to be relatable and connect with young people, but her campaign platform does not resonate with them as well as her competitor’s does. Halper writes, “For young Democrats, getting a woman in the Oval Office has not ranked as high on the priority list as putting Wall Street or the giant health insurance companies in their place.”

To that point, both Democratic candidates have plans for financial reform; a major concern for young women. Although she says she will take on big banks if necessary, Clinton is heavily criticized for past speaking engagements at major financial institutions, like Goldman Sachs, where she received payments of $675,000 for three speeches. As a result, Millennials are put off by the fact that she claims to want to regulate the same big firms she took large sums of money from. In sharp contrast, her opponent promises to break up big banks while refusing to accept money from the financial sector or any other special interest group.

New York University professor Patricio Navia told NTRSCTN, an online news and lifestyle site geared toward Millennials, “Hillary belongs to the group that Sanders has historically criticized. So, in that sense, Hillary is the candidate of the establishment and Sanders is the candidate that challenges the establishment.”

Most importantly, Millennials are looking for the candidate who best reflects their values and beliefs; they do not care what gender that candidate happens to be. Throughout her career, Clinton worked to ensure women have a better future, but Millennials realize that will not happen with a bad economy, increasing debt, and few employment opportunities underscored by growing income inequality.

Moreover, the divide widened when Clinton’s campaign pushed the message that all women should cast their vote based on gender. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright went as far as to say, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other” and female Millennials “don’t understand the importance of why young women have to support Hillary Clinton.”

Of course, that strategy backfired. The more you tell someone what they should do, the less they will want to do it.

While millennial females appreciate what feminist pioneers like Clinton accomplished in the fight for women’s rights, a big part of that fight was giving women of later generations options and choices. As females, as well as Millennials, we choose to elect a president that represents our values and beliefs, rather than the obvious candidate we are told is the right choice.