New York: Hillary Clinton's secret weapon could be Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders who are both wildly popular with young voters. Clinton’s once-commanding lead among millennials has nearly collapsed, several polls show, a factor making the presidential race much closer in recent weeks, forcing the Clinton campaign to bring out Democrat party stars Michelle Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The Clinton campaign is hoping the first lady can reignite the diverse coalition of voters that propelled President Barack Obama to office by turning out in record numbers — but have been distinctly less enthusiastic about Clinton.
Michelle Obama warned young voters against being ‘‘tired or turned off’’ in the 2016 election. She urged them to rally behind Clinton, ‘‘particularly given the alternative.’’ Her campaign trail debut underlines how other Democrats can whip up the base for flagging Clinton. The first lady's real value is her wild popularity with young people and African Americans.
“Elections aren’t just about who votes, but who doesn’t vote,” Michelle Obama told a crowd of students at George Mason University during her debut as an energetic surrogate for Hillary Clinton.
“And that is especially true for young people like all of you.”
She sparked a level of enthusiasm among the crowd that Clinton doesn't always manage, even when she rattled off dry stats about President Obama’s margin of error in swing states in his re-election and how he would have lost several of them if young voters stayed home.
Loved for her forthright style, the first lady directly confronted the lackluster enthusiasm for Clinton among young people. “When I hear folks saying they don’t feel inspired in this election, let me tell you: I disagree. I am inspired. For eight years, I have had the privilege to see what it actually takes to do this job.
"We have an opportunity to elect one of the most qualified people who ever endeavored to become president.”
Michelle Obama dismissed Republican nominee Donald Trump as unstable and intolerant, and cautioned the 3,000 or so students assembled that they will put her husband’s legacy at risk if they stay home on election day.
The Democrats were lifted by the super surge in younger voters who turned out in 2008 to vote for Barack Obama. Their turnout dropped off a bit in 2012, but it was still historically higher than usual.
With about fifty days to go before Election Day, Clinton must ignite the quiet devotion of young supporters to help her fire up more young voters.
“We exist! And we are enthusiastic!” said Radhika Mathur, 25, a PhD student at Harvard who has been on the “ready for Hillary team” since 2013.
Meanwhile, Trump's weakness among younger voters is unprecedented, lower even than the 32 percent of the vote that the Gallup Organization calculates Richard Nixon received among 18-to-29-year-old voters in 1972, an era of massive youth protests against the Vietnam War. Trump has made no headway in attracting disaffected Bernie supporters.
"The stark truth is starting to appear in several polls: The latest New York Times/CBS News poll showed that a whopping 36 percent of voters under 30 planned to vote for a third-party candidate such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein," reported CNBC.
"The implications are very different for Trump and Clinton. For Trump, the lack of support from young people simply signals a missed opportunity. For Clinton, not getting their support or seeing a significant portion of it migrate to Johnson or Stein in crucial states like Michigan and Pennsylvania could be a death blow," it reported.
The message from the polls and the importance of channeling youth power hasn't been lost on the Clinton campaign. It dispatched Bernie Sanders to Ohio where Trump is now edging out Clinton according to multiple polls. According to the latest four-way poll from Real Clear Politics, Trump leads with 42.5 percent of Ohio voters. Clinton is just behind with 40.8 percent. The Libertarian and Green Party candidates each have less than 10 percent of the vote.
Sanders got a warm reception from students at the University of Akron, in Ohio while campaigning on behalf of Clinton. He said voters in Ohio need to stop Trump. He touched on issues like rebuilding infrastructure, stopping billionaires from what he calls “buying” elections, closing the gender wage gap and raising the minimum wage.
After the University of Akron, Sanders also stopped at Kent State University. Also appearing in Northeast Ohio in support of Clinton is US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren. She’ll be in Cleveland on Sunday morning.
First Published On : Sep 18, 2016 10:23 IST