December 15th, 2016

Bernie didn’t go away. Bernie voters didn’t go away (I’m working on a longer piece on that topic right now). Scott Goodman (whose firm Revolution Messaging played a yuugggeee roll in Bernie’s campaign), writing in Blaming millennials for Trump—99 problems but the kids ain’t one for Policy.Mic, offers [Hint, a mirror would be helpful here, JH] his post mortem:

Having exhausted a number of storylines blaming others for Trump’s victory, the consulting class in Washington, D.C., is now pointing a finger at millennial voters.

“That’s why we lost,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook recently pronounced at Harvard’s Institute of Politics during a campaign manager event in which he blamed young voters for supporting third party candidates. Similarly, founder of Media Matters for America David Brock expressed his anger at the “disaffected millennials who sat on their hands in the most consequential election of our lives” during the first major gathering of Democratic Party lawmakers since the election, which took place earlier this week.

But while Mook and Brock tried to make millennials the scapegoat for Trump’s victory, neither explained the full story. Here is why they are wrong.

Young voters were the only age bracket that Clinton actually won. We need to stop blaming them. Far from sitting on their hands, today’s young voters are actively engaged. I saw that first-hand during the Democratic primary, during which my firm worked with Bernie Sanders’ campaign. From organizing their friends to show up to rallies en masse, to pitching in $27 at a time, young voters were as active throughout this election cycle as ever. In fact, early general election data suggests young voters turned out to the polls at similar levels to 2012. They just didn’t favor Hillary as much as her campaign would have liked.

If the Clinton campaign is dissatisfied with their level of millennial support, they should take a hard look at where their young voter strategy failed.

Goodman’s analysis is spot on (I wish I were young enough to ask for a job with his firm) and I think his conclusion—that Clinton failed because of her arrogance and sense of entitlement—speaks louder than any other I’ve read.

Fifth, the campaign failed to develop an effective social media strategy. Back in 2012, Mitt Romney’s tweets were famously filtered through over 20 staffers. Too often, Clinton’s social media presence felt similarly scripted and out-of-touch. The full power of social media is only unleashed when candidates use these platforms to have real conversations and establish emotional connections. But when Clinton’s campaign used social media, it too often felt like a bad marketing campaign that fell flat. For example, tweets like “Tell us in three emojis or less … How does your student loan debt make you feel?” were patronizing and did not show Clinton’s empathy.

Finally, the Clinton campaign was patronizing to Bernie Sanders supporters, many of whom were young voters. Clinton once said she felt “sorry for” young Bernie Sanders supporters and claimed they didn’t “do their own research.” Her surrogates suggested young women were supporting Sanders to meet boys and that there was a “special place in hell” for women who failed to support other women. Similarly, I was in the room when Clinton supporter and CNN contributor Paul Begala told an audience full of millennials in California to fall in line, respect their elders and stop whining.

Anyone considering a run, or thinking they’ll get re-elected in2018, who believes they can ignore Goodman’s advice in 2018, has another think coming.

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