Hillary Clinton at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Georgia
(Image by Brett Weinstein) Permission Details DMCA
When Bernie Sanders was fighting with Hillary Clinton for the Millennial vote, he hit on Millennials' issues. His number one concerns were promoting economic equality, helping people pay their way through college, and ending the harmful partnership between corporations and politicians.
Observers often trot out the strength of Millennial numbers. They make up 31% of the electorate, the same percentage as their Baby Boomer parents. Because there are so many of them, if you're a politician or a business executive, you need to make sure you cater to their concerns.
One of the number one concerns for Millennials is college. There are really only 5 ways to pay for college:
-Find an employer, such as Starbucks, who will pay for it for you
-Serve in the military
And as I pointed out on this blog previously, student debt is a trillion dollar issue, one largely shouldered by Millennials. Students have had to settle for the 'get loans' option more than any of the others. There just aren't enough employers, grants, and scholarships out there to prevent loans from becoming the number one way kids pay for college. As for serving in the military, it doesn't take a lot of guesswork to understand why that's not an attractive option.
Sanders' plan was to remedy the college debt problem, largely by raising taxes on the rich and making college free. And 55% of Millennials supported Sanders in a crowded field. After Sanders lost, Clinton co-opted his idea. Her plan is to make college free for families who earn less than $125,000 a year. Community college will be free, too. There will be a three-month moratorium on loan payments, which will give debtors time to sort things out.
This is an attractive proposition for Millennials. Along with free college, Hillary has Bernie Sanders' endorsement, as well as high-profile endorsements from people like Obama and a bucket-load of celebrities. But now, at the crucial moment, she's losing support from Millennials. Specifically, she's lost 6%.
Before Sanders lost to Hillary, a Gallup poll showed Hillary had 38% of Millennials' support. If the 55% who supported Sanders had jumped on board Hillary's wagon, she would have much higher support from Millennials than the 62% she has now. This race between Hillary and Trump would be absolutely no contest. Millennials have the numbers to make it so.
What happened? With policies and endorsements specifically aimed at this demographic, why hasn't she been able to capture a huge swath of Millennial voters?
Two words: 'establishment' and 'trust'.
A new Harvard poll shows that 51% of young Americans are fearful about being able to obtain the 'American Dream', while 20% are hopeful. The fear comes from "lack of faith in Washington to solve challenges of financial, personal and national security". Millennials don't trust established politicians, such as Hillary, to help them. But right now the polls reflect a grudging acquiescence to support her because there's no better alternative.