"Even if they're not supporting me now, I support them," Hillary Clinton says of young voters

By Tierney McAfee
Updated February 11, 2016 05:20 PM
Credit: USA TODAY NETWORK/Sipa USA; Joshua Lott/Getty

• In New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders won the votes of nearly 80 percent of women under 30

• Bernie Sanders’ campaign has raised more than $7 million since the New Hampshire polls closed

• Hillary Clinton acknowledged she has “work to do,” saying of young voters, “Even if they’re not supporting me now, I support them”

Hillary Clinton is struggling to find her footing with young female voters as she prepares to face off against Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin Thursday night in what could be a pivotal Democratic debate.

Clinton, who lost New Hampshire women to Sanders by a stunning 11 points, acknowledged in her concession speech that she has “work to do” with young voters, adding, “Even if they’re not supporting me now, I support them.”

Exit polls showed that Sanders won the votes of 7 out of every 10 women under the age of 45 in New Hampshire, and nearly 80 percent of women under the age of 30, the Associated Press reports. These numbers are significant. As Reuters put it, “Hillary Clinton made the prospect of her being elected the first woman U.S. president a centerpiece of her campaign – then lost a critical nominating contest to a 74-year-old man in part because women preferred him.”

So why is Clinton having so much trouble winning over young women?

“I think for young women, they clearly identify as feminists, they say they’re feminists, but I think the notion of having a woman president … it doesn’t drive them in the same way, as women who are in the traditional second wave of feminism,” Debbie Walsh, director for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, tells the Associated Press.

According to the Los Angeles Times, surveys indicate that millennial women do want to see a woman in the White House – just not necessarily Clinton. To them, the former secretary of state embodies “the establishment” while Sanders represents a political revolution.

Young female voters feel more inspired by Sanders’ big ideas than Clinton’s pragmatism, claims the Associated Press.

“We always have another chance to have another woman president, but do we have another chance to have someone as genuine as Bernie Sanders is?” asks Nicole McGillicuddy, a 26-year-old server at a Concord, New Hampshire, restaurant.

Sanders is now also giving Clinton a run for her money in fundraising efforts. Since the New Hampshire polls closed Tuesday night, the Democratic socialist has raised more than $7 million – the most his campaign has ever raised in one day, according to Vox. The average donation was around $34, Sanders’ campaign says. The senator has touted his small-donor fundraising as proof of the grassroots power behind his candidacy, but it also means his donors will be able to continue giving in small increments throughout his entire campaign.

Clinton’s campaign, on the other hand, has been bolstered mainly by large contributions – which means that her donors are much more likely than Sanders’ to hit the maximum primary contribution of $2,700 per person and be barred from giving her more money.

If Sanders keeps his New Hampshire momentum going in the coming weeks, and his “small-donor army stays hyped up,” Vox writes, “he’ll be able to fund a national organization, pay for ads in every contested state, and remain in the race as long as he wants.”