IMMEDIATE RELEASE 28 Jan. 2016 10
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932
Millennials are Sanders and Trump constituents
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – If Bernie Sanders pulls out a win in the Iowa caucuses, it will be because of the overwhelming support he enjoys from millennial voters. That may seem surprising since he’s the oldest candidate in the race at age 74, and in the 30 years he has served in Congress, first in the House, then in the Senate, nobody ever called him charismatic.
But here he is at this late stage in his life exciting voters a third his age. If they show up to vote on caucus night, Sanders could well beat Hillary Clinton, handing the frontrunner a defeat that is eerily reminiscent of the one she suffered in 2008.
That was at the hands of a young and charismatic Barack Obama, and it rocked her world. She and her campaign have done everything they can this time around to overcome the advantage Sanders has with young voters.
The election is in the hands of these voters, and they’re very different from their parents. The millennial generation doesn’t like big houses, or big cars, and they live on social media. They’ve only heard about the social upheaval that the Baby Boomers experienced, the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the women’s movement.
But the millennial generation has had their share of trauma, good and bad, and they don’t trust politicians. They like Sanders because he is railing against the Establishment, however it’s defined, and they find him exciting, even if he’s been around awhile.
Millennial voters are also part of Donald Trump’s base. He appeals to those with high-school diplomas that the new, high-tech economy tends to leave behind. College students prefer Sanders, but what these two unconventional politicians have in common is that they can excite and inspire young voters.
They won’t vote if they’re not inspired. They’ve come of age at a time when celebrities drive the news cycle. This is where Trump comes in with a level of celebrity that grabs the attention of everybody, not just the young.
Millennial voters are not ideological. They’re not tracking Trump’s flip-flops or holding against him something he said 20 years ago. They like his current affect, his swagger, his defiance, and his assurances that he can get the job done, whatever the job.
Just as they like Sanders for tackling Wall Street and promising revolution, these voters don’t spend a lot of time considering how Sanders can fulfill his campaign agenda in such an unforgiving Washington. Clinton is the realist who knows how hard it is to get anything progressive through a Congress controlled by the opposite party.
Sanders knows how hard it is too, but he entered the race as such a long shot that he has probably convinced himself if he wins the nomination, anything is possible.
If Sanders wins the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, he will face an uphill battle in the next round of primaries principally because of the support Clinton has from African-American voters. She leads Sanders by 50 points in South Carolina, which is her firewall.
On the Republican side, there is no firewall to stop Trump. If he wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he is in a position to sweep the Southern primaries and accumulate enough delegates to win the nomination.
He is still beatable, but it is not clear who can do it among the Republicans. None of them has demonstrated as much appeal among young voters as Trump, who at 69 is the oldest candidate on the Republican side. Millennial voters are looking for qualities that have nothing to do with age, and everything to do with attitude.
Douglas Cohn’s new book, “The President’s First Year: None Were Prepared, Some Never Learned – Why the Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency,” is available in book stores.
© 2016 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND