“Clinton has been an advocate for women and a role model to many. Her popularity reflects the progress women have made in the uphill battle against the status quo.”
With the Democratic National Convention coming up in the United States and statistics showing a somewhat uncompetitive race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the IPF spoke to young voters about their views on the 2016 election. After interviewing young Trump supporters, we spoke to young people who support Clinton to find out why they are voting for her.
Younger voters are seen as more liberal, which was initially in line with Sanders’ views, as compared to the more moderate Clinton. Therefore, finding young voters who back Clinton against the trend of left-leaning millennials was an interesting excursion into the changing dynamics of the Democratic Party.
How much does it matter that Hillary Clinton is a woman?
Most students believe that having a female President would be a major achievement. While most told the IPF that gender was not a deciding factor in determining their support, they acknowledged that it played a role in her campaign. One young voter said:
“My decision [to vote] for Hillary was not about her being a woman. However, as of now she has the endorsements and the most popular votes, but people are still holding out on her – I think that is about her being a woman.”
Clinton’s treatment as a woman in politics reflects, to many students, someone who has lived through the same struggles women have faced in the last thirty years: “People attack Hillary Clinton with sexist arguments the same way that they attacked Barack Obama with racist ones.”
But even a symbolic victory will impact on gender relations and could be instrumental in empowering women across the country, in the same way that President Obama inspired young African Americans.
A young voter explained: “Clinton has been an advocate for women and a role model to many. Her popularity reflects the progress women have made in the uphill battle against the status quo.”
Clinton’s strength in the political sphere, despite the systemic injustices against her, strongly speaks of her leadership. Her credentials and journey in politics convey to some young voters that she will be a strong leader who could have a positive impact on the country.
It helps that Clinton reflects liberal policies, which attempt to reduce the gender gap, among others. She has stood by the LGBT+ community by pledging to continue the fight against AIDS, supported the Affordable Care Act, and is eager to implement a tuition free college plan.
The combination of being a woman and being supportive of pro-women policies excites her supporters, as opposed to other female politicians:
“I would not vote for a woman candidate if I clearly differed with them in policy substance, like Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin.”
Why do students support Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for the democratic nomination?
Students see Clinton as the more moderate choice. In a country where there is noticeable resistance to progressivism, her candidacy brings potential for compromise in a deadlocked government:
“Bernie Sanders is well intentioned, but it’s hard to see him make much meaningful change in office if his radical liberal views will be battling a Senate and House dominated by Republicans.”
Having lived through the repercussions of Obama’s initial years, where his lack of experience proved politically ostracising, young voters are confident about Clinton because of her experience in government and foreign policy.
They also appear to find Clinton more capable of winning corporate support than Sanders, which is essential when it comes to winning US elections.
With regard to foreign policy, young voters said that they had faith in Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State and her work with foreign governments. They were also comfortable with the reputation she has built, as well as the networking she has already done.
Many believe that this will allow her to better represent the country than. One young American’s words said it all: “I am just so proud of all she has done!”
Is Clinton seen as an extension of the Obama administration?
With President Obama’s approval ratings picking up, it’s easy to expect more support for Clinton, who is more similar to Obama than her opponents:
“Obama pointed this country in a good direction. Hillary is the only candidate who will continue that”.
Because she’s worked closely with Obama, Clinton gives students hope that she will continue his policies. However, she will do so with the political manoeuvring that can make the government function as it was designed to.
Ultimately, Clinton appears to stand as a symbol of hope for change in American society, which requires cooperation between conflicting right and left wing political interests.
At this moment in time, students are entrusting Clinton to be the pivot in the battle to achieve equal rights, safer streets, and stable foreign relations.