The White House, source: Wikimedia Commons
By: Noah Nelson, Youth Radio Staff Writer
Ah, the 2016 Presidential election. It seems like only 40 years ago that Donald Trump rode down the escalator of the Trump Tower in Manhattan in order to announce his candidacy and thus begin the strangest campaign season of the modern era. Internet time has proven to be the equivalent of dog years, as any given day can provide a lifetime worth of stories, only to get swept away with the next morning's headlines.
It's easy to lose track of what's been happening, so we're offering this little snapshot from the week, and how the four candidates running for President (listed in order of their polling numbers) have positioned themselves in order to snag the Millennial vote: which just might determine who will be America's Next Top Chief Executive.
What The Polls Tell Us
There's been all kinds of hand-wringing in the press this past week about just how unpopular the big two party candidates are with millennials. While in absolute terms Clinton is the most popular candidate with young voters, she's not pulling the kinds of numbers President Obama did in his run-up to election.
An ABC/Washington Post poll referenced in an Atlantic article on Clinton's millennial woes shows that her chief rival is in deep trouble with young voters, but it isn't translating into mega-support for her:
70 percent of those younger Americans said Trump was not qualified to serve as president and 66 percent said he was biased against women and minorities. But in the four-way match-up, Clinton again drew just 44 percent to 24 percent for Trump, 20 percent for Johnson, and 6 percent for Stein.
Clinton's also not doing as well with black millennials as she's doing with the whole of the African-American population, as Five Thirty Eight made the case for this week.
All of this has caused some in the media to start preemptively pointing their fingers at Millennials as the cause if Clinton fails to defeat Trump.
The picture is, of course, far more complicated than that. Clinton leads in the national polls, but the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal polls shows that Clinton has a negative 15 net favorability rating, compared with Trump's negative 33 and President Obama's positive 12. So, no matter who wins or loses there's plenty of blame to go around. (And look: we -- the news media -- got a negative 40 rating! Only Putin is worse!)
Where The Campaigns Showed Up
You can tell a lot about how seriously a campaign is taking the youth vote based on where they are turning up. Here's what we've been able to piece together about which candidates and their surrogates booked the most appearances on college campuses and other spots important to youth voters this week.
Sep. 17th Senator Sanders at University of Akron, Ohio
Sep. 19th - Secretary Clinton at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sep. 22nd - Secretary Clinton appears on Between Two Ferns w/ Zach Galifinakis
Sep. 22nd - Chelsea Clinton at Michigan Students for Hillary event at MSU in Lansing, Michigan
Sep. 22nd - Senator Kaine at organizing rally at University of Nevada, Reno
Sep. 17th Gov. Pence appearance in Gainesville, Florida at Florida State game
Sep. 20th Mr. Trump at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina
Sep. 22nd Ivanka Trump visits a charter school in Fort Collins, Colorado (private event)
Sep. 22nd. Gov. Weld at the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business for a Town Hall.
Sep. 22 Dr. Stein at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT
Sep. 23, 2016 Dr. Stein at Rhode Island College Campus in Providence, RI
Governor Mike Pence speaking with supporters at a campaign rally and church service at the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona. (September 22, 2016) Credit: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons
Where The Campaigns Are Going
Just in case you want to check out a youth-focused event, here's what the current schedules for the campaigns say about their outreach efforts.
Sep. 26th - First Presidential Debate
Sep. 26th - First Presidential Debate
Sep. 28 Dr. Stein at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL
Sep. 30 Dr. Stein at Miami Dade College in Miami, FL
Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in Orlando, FL. (September 21, 2016)
Policy Statements & Outreach
Appearances are just part of the battle, what the campaigns are saying is the real point.
This week, Clinton made a strong play for the Millennial vote, delivering a speech targeted towards students at Temple University, and releasing an essay called Here's What Millennials Have Taught Me via the website MIC. Add in her appearance on Between Two Ferns and you can feel the focus on the youth vote.
We reached out to all the campaigns to ask about recent campaign initiatives aimed at Millennials. A statement from the Johnson/Weld campaign communication director Joe Hunter said, in part:
"Millennials haven't gotten the memo that they are supposed to fall in line and choose between the Republican and Democrat, even if they don't want either one."
See the full statement reproduced at the end of this article.
How The Internet Is Impacting The Campaigns
So it's a bit weird to talk about how the internet is impacting the campaigns. These days that's like saying how air is impacting the election: it's the very stuff in which this all takes place. You can point to the Twitter flame wars that erupted over Donald Trump Jr.'s "Skittles" comments, or the rather out-there theories that the Alt-Right mascot Pepe the Frog is actually the avatar of an Egyptian Chaos God. This is one election where the conversations at the fringes have a way of moving right into the middle of things. (We, for instance, don't actually believe that Pepe is the embodiment of an ancient evil.)
Then there's what can best be described as a "plot twist": Palmer Luckey, the founder of virtual reality company Oculus, has been revealed to be the financial backer of an effort to create "shitpost" memes that attack Hillary Clinton. The revelation comes as a surprise to some -- the rhetoric of VR as an "empathy machine" doesn't seem to jibe with the ethos of Reddit/4Chan memetic warfare -- but tech bloggers are already digging into Luckey's data trail to show the evidence has been there all along.
But not every tech-related campaign story is about the ever-present Culture War. In fact the biggest story could be flying under the radar, and it's one that has its root in an effort that failed in the 2000 election: vote trading.
The "I can't believe it's legal" practice of swapping votes, which the 9th Circuit of the Federal Court system deemed legal in 2007. This year, vote trading exchanges, which run on the honor system (natch), are being set up by groups like R4C16 (Republicans for Clinton 2016) as part of the broader #NeverTrump movement.
And unlike in 2000: there's an app for it.
Full statement from the Johnson/Weld campaign on Millennial outreach.
"The Johnson-Weld strategy to win Millennials is simple. It is to communicate the Governors' positions and philosophy, which align pretty closely with a great many young people today. They pledge to end crony capitalism to give entrepreneurs a level playing field on which to succeed. Do Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump offer that? Millennials are skeptical of big government, and that is the essence of our campaign. Millennials see the future of innovations like Uber and Airbnb, which Gary Johnson cites at every opportunity, while Hillary Clinton defends the regulatory and union-based resistance to those innovations. And most important, Governors Johnson and Weld are the only option for those who want government to be fiscally responsible and socially agnostic. That is precisely where most Millennials are.
"Millennials haven't gotten the memo that they are supposed to fall in line and choose between the Republican and Democrat, even if they don't want either one.
"The task is to reach those Millennials, and we are investing tremendous time and resources on social media, videos and other communications efforts to connect with young people within the information sources they use. As we make that connection, we are finding a great deal of support." -Joe Hunter, Comm. Dir., Johnson Weld 2016
Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit Youthradio.org