Clinton faces challenge in winning over young women

Laura Shadle likes Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump shares tweet claiming Clinton's 'mentor' was 'KKK member' Wasserman Schultz dodges question about DNC emails Kaine tweets with the cast of 'Veep' MORE. But the 23-year-old Penn State senior is more inspired by Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive things to know about the Dakota Access Pipeline fight Latino Republicans split on Trump's outreach Teamsters endorse Clinton MORE

Shadle, who is volunteering for the Sanders campaign in Pennsylvania, says it’s more “progressive” to go with the candidate that speaks to her, not the candidate who could make history by becoming the nation’s first woman president. 

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She also strongly believes that other millennial women feel the same way. 

“We’re not necessarily going to vote for someone just because they’re a woman,” she said in an interview. “A lot of us are just trying to look at the candidate.”

Shadle represents a potential problem for the Clinton campaign amid weeks of favorable headlines: The Democratic front-runner has a weakness with millennials. 

An NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll released on Friday showed Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who is running as a Democrat, received 48 percent of support from young voters between the ages of 18-29, compared to Clinton’s 33 percent. 

While the poll did not break down millennial support by gender, efforts by Clinton’s campaign to reach out to young women suggests it is a demographic the former secretary of State’s team is seeking to strengthen. 

Clinton does well with women voters in general, but Democratic strategists have highlighted support from young women as a potential vulnerability for Clinton — particularly in the primary. 

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.

Katherine Jellison, a professor of women’s history at Ohio University, argues that, in some respects, it’s a generational issue. 

“She’s your mom’s candidate,” Jellison said. “She and the Clinton machine seem like old news to a lot of millennials. And if you think about where youthful activism has been —other than LGBT issues — it really hasn’t been with gender issues but class issues, like the Occupy movement.”

Team Clinton is taking a number of steps to try to buttress her appeal with young women. 

She’ll appear this week on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” for an interview. Separately, she’ll be paired with Christina Aguilera at a Hollywood fundraiser. 

In recent weeks, she’s sat down with Lena Dunham, of “Girls” fame, speaking about her college life and her career path. She also did interviews with Refinery 29 and The Skimm, two trendy websites aimed at young women.

Clinton allies say she will also articulate issues pertaining to young women, including equal pay, Planned Parenthood, immigration and gun control, while finding creative avenues to reach the demographic. 

“We will continue working to make sure her policies and priorities are reaching young women and that they know that Hillary is fighting for them,” one Clinton aide said. 

In the general election, it’s possible some of those issues could help Clinton with young women regardless of her GOP opponent. But she also needs to make sure young people are excited to elect her as she tries to rebuild President Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 voting coalitions. 

In 2008, Obama captured 66 percent of voters under 30.

Susan Carroll, a senior scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, said millennial women have rallied around Sanders for much the same reason they were drawn to Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump spokeswoman: Position on immigration “not really complicated” Seven ways the Clinton Foundation failed to meet its transparency promises Administration proposes visa program for entrepreneurs MORE.

“Those campaigns have been more like a movement than a political campaign,” Carroll said. “And that’s much more attractive to younger voters.

“[Clinton] has taken some important steps, but what’s still not there is, what is the vision she’s offering them? The vision they can latch onto and get excited about?” she added.

Shadle, who was born in 1992, the year Bill ClintonBill ClintonSeven ways the Clinton Foundation failed to meet its transparency promises Dem Senate candidate: Foundation should ‘probably’ shutter if Clinton wins Will the US and Canada start a trade war over lumber? MORE won the White House, says she’s supporting Sanders because there’s a “consistency and authenticity” to him that she hasn’t seen with Clinton.  

“I just don’t think she has that same energy,” Shadle said.

Yet she concludes with some good news for Clinton: If she beats Sanders, Shadle says she’ll have her vote.

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