Millennial turnout may be deciding factor in Clinton-Trump contest
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As the polls opened across America this morning, the presidential election is neck and neck. Critical battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, are all toss ups at this point.

It’s all going to come down to turnout: which candidate can better mobilize their base? Herein lies Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump rally: 'The time has come again' to fight for democracy Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – 'Being righteous and losing sucks' MORE’s problem, particularly when it comes to millennial voters. Ironically, the same young voters who turned out in record numbers to propel President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump averages highest approval rating of his presidency in second quarter: Gallup The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE to victory in 2008 and again in 2012 could keep Clinton from the White House.

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There are about 70 million millennials who are eligible to vote, meaning they could make up the nation’s largest voting bloc. With the race against Trump being razor thin, Clinton is depending on young voters to turnout for her like they did for Obama.  
 
Young voters were excited to go cast ballots for Obama because they viewed him as an authentic candidate who represented hope and change. But Clinton is largely viewed as the opposite of those things: an entrenched, untrustworthy candidate who represents more of the same in Washington, D.C.
 
Make no mistake: millennials overwhelmingly prefer Clinton to Donald Trump. But her problem is that these voters are not enthusiastic about her. And unenthusiastic voters are less likely to spend time and effort voting on Election Day.Nearly half of millennials consider themselves political independents, with no allegiance to any political party. Additionally, three in four millennials don’t trust the federal government to do the right thing. This sets a bleak stage for Clinton — a career politician with strong ties to the establishment wing of the Democratic Party — to energize the youth vote.  

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Cardi B posts message of support for Ilhan Omar #IStandWithIlhan trends after crowd at Trump rally chants 'send her back' MORE’ status as a progressive “outsider” is largely what made him so appealing to millennials. In many states, Sanders got more millennial votes than Trump and Clinton combined.

Although Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton after dropping out of the race, the damage may have already been done by that point. During the Vermont Senator’s lengthy campaign, he drove many of his supporters to the left and hammered Clinton for her ties to Wall Street.

Making matters worse for Clinton, two thirds of Sanders’ supporters feel the DNC rigged the Democratic primary in her favor. It isn’t hard to see why. The popular vote during the primary was tight: Sanders received 12 million votes, while Clinton received 15.8 million. Yet Clinton received 602 votes from Superdelegates, DNC insiders who can vote for either candidate regardless of the voters’ will, while Sanders only received 48.  

Most of Sanders’ former supporters now support Clinton, but not passionately so.

Perhaps the biggest thorn in Clinton’s side when it comes to turning out the youth vote is that 77 percent of voters aged 18-34 find her untrustworthy (compared to 65 percent of all voters).

It doesn’t help that her scandals have been top headlines over the last several weeks. FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that the investigation into her use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State was being reopened only reminded voters of their fears that Clinton is dishonest. Comey’s subsequent announcement, in which he stated that Clinton won’t face charges, did not undo that damage; it merely kept Clinton’s dirty laundry on the front pages.  

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that some percentage of the youth vote will, at the last minute, decide they are so dissatisfied with both Trump and Hillary that they’ll cast their ballot for a third party candidate. Others may just save themselves the effort and stay home today.

As most polls suggest battleground states — and even some traditionally blue states like Michigan and Minnesota — have tightened, Clinton needs high turnout among her base to win.

If millennials don’t make it to the polls for her, they could ultimately give Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE the presidency.  

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It."


 

The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill