Does Hillary have a millennial problem ... among women?

It may not be easy to tell from the data in recent polling, but it’s becoming clear in the pandering. Hillary Clinton hoped to re-establish the Barack Obama voter coalition in 2016, but two key demographics have proven difficult to sway — millennials and, perhaps surprisingly, women. When it comes to millennial women, the problem may be insurmountable for a candidate so tied to the past:

Laura Shadle likes Hillary Clinton. But the 23-year-old Penn State senior is more inspired by Bernie Sanders. …

The historic nature of Clinton’s campaign doesn’t resonate with millennial women the same way it does with other women, say strategists, because young woman believe someone will break the Oval Office glass ceiling even if it doesn’t happen in 2016.

“To them it seems obvious and indisputable that if Clinton doesn’t win, some other woman will, and soon,” one Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter said, adding that Clinton seems “too old, too moderate and too caught up in another time.”

Peter Hart, a top Democratic pollster, said millennial women are more “enamored” with Sanders partly because of Clinton’s personality.

While the group appreciates her policy chops and experience, “when it comes to the more personal side, whether she is easy-going, likeable, relating well, she does less well,” Hart said.

In the latest NBC/Survey Monkey poll, Hillary only got 33% of voters under 30 for the Democratic nomination, while Bernie Sanders has 48% of that demographic. In a general election that will likely change significantly, depending in large part on who wins the Republican nomination, but the gap between this and Obama’s win in 2012 is huge. Obama won this demographic 60/37, which means that Hillary is underperforming Mitt Romney, albeit in an apples/oranges comparison of electorates. The bigger problem for Hillary is that she clearly isn’t exciting younger voters of either gender, which has implications for turnout and activism in the 2016 general election.

It’s a very large red flag for a party that has no other real path to victory with Hillary except to win the same voters they got in 2012. Sanders has stolen Hillary’s thunder among millennials, assuming she ever had much in the first place, and it’s far from clear that she can inspire younger voters even when on her own.

The NBC/Survey Monkey poll did not break out millennial women, but our own Survey Monkey poll has more data accessible to us. Among all millennials regardless of which primary they plan to to vote, Sanders leads 48.3/15.9 in a subsample of 242 respondents. When narrowed down to millennial women (subsample of 134 respondents), Sanders’ lead is about the same — 45.5/17.2. Among women of all ages who plan to vote in the Democratic primary (529 respondents), Clinton does better at 54.1/31.4 over Sanders — but that’s hardly an impressive performance in a demographic she should own. In fact, it’s almost identical to the margin of all Democratic primary voters, 51.6/36.1. Women are not riding to Hillary’s rescue, especially not younger women, and that bodes ill for Democrats.

Jazz Shaw Dec 01, 2021 11:01 AM ET