From the very beginning of her presidential run, Hillary Clinton has had a Millennial problem. A lot of them loved Bernie Sanders. While he was in the race, these younger voters made up a huge segment of the Never Hillary crowd. Even after Sanders left the race, Millennials were slow to move over into the Hillary column.
Most expected Hillary to get their support sooner or later, but “sooner” never materialized. Meanwhile, Trump’s level of support among Millennials surprised a lot of people. Meanwhile, Hillary struggled to connect with even the segments of that generation most assumed would be easy for her to add to her “I’m with Her” column.
But, when Hillary met with young blacks, she didn’t receive the warm welcome she expected. A traditionally strong group for the Dems, the younger black voters were suspicious of Clinton in a way their predecessors had not been in previous elections. In particular, Black Lives Matter leadership was iffy when it came to the former Secretary of State. They wonder if she really understands why they are protesting and what they are protesting for. Does Ms. Clinton “get” income inequality or police brutality? Will she help move the ball forward on these issues with the same alacrity and focus shown by President Obama? Early in her campaign, these are questions the former First Lady failed to answer to some folks’ liking.
There seems to have been some movement on the issue. Recent op-eds in major newspapers have revealed the intentions of some in the BLM movement to endorse Clinton, though far from warmly. It’s very much a “we’ll give you a bit and see what happens” sort of relationship. They know Clinton needs them on election day, and they vow to remember if she forgets them after November 8.
But others are holding out. Millennials, particularly black Millennials, care deeply about mass incarcerations, unfair drug sentencing, and other issues they believe stem from racial bias in law enforcement. Clinton has been very reluctant to speak out on these issues, even using vague political language. That may not be good enough to win her votes where she needs them to win. Trump has certain demographics pretty much locked up. Clinton will need to win others in order to make 272.
The Millennials that gave President Obama a boost are vital to her campaign’s hopes. So far, they’re less than enthused. Others have flat out said “no thanks.” Clinton doesn’t have much time to change that.
Elie Hirschfeld is NY real estate developer.