Millennials number 81 million and are a tough crowd to capture. The sizable group has the potential to be a powerful political force, but only 26 percent of the 64 million eligible millennials voted in the 2012 election. Republicans and Democrats alike have been working to figure out how to reach them, but current social buzz is clearly showing that Sanders wins millennial favor.
Millennials: Disillusioned and Frustrated
Statistics show that millennials have extremely low trust in the government, having watched the two parties refuse to work together to solve the issues plaguing their lifetime: economic crisis, failure of the housing market, the worst terror attack in U.S. history, long-running wars, historic levels of student debt, and increasing wealth inequality. They’re the first generation in recent history to have more student debt, poverty and unemployment — and fewer job opportunities — than the two generations before them.
They’ve lived much of their lives seeing politicians engage in personal feuds rather than policy debates, leaving them unconvinced it’s worth their effort. They’re disillusioned, grumpy, and countercultural. They value honesty and authenticity, and feel they’re not getting it. Simply put, they feel the system sucks. It’s rigged and can’t be trusted.
… In comes Bernie Sanders, looking like Back to the Future’s Doc Brown, spreading his anti-establishment cause via social media. And it’s totally worked.
Sanders Wins Millennial Favor Using Social Strategy and Authenticity
More than 50 percent of Millennials identify as politically independent and support progressive policies that promote opportunity, economic security, and equality. This perspective is one reason Democrat Bernie Sanders wins millennial favor. The other is because he’s speaking to them endearingly and authentically where they live, on social media.
Millennials get their news from social media. Obama knew this and used it to his advantage, winning nearly 70 percent of the millennial vote in the 2008 “Facebook election.” Bernie is now taking that baton and running with it. He was an early adopter of the newly released Facebook Canvas and has been blanketing Facebook and Instagram with his message. In one of the largest and most aggressive political advertising campaigns ever undertaken on Facebook and Instagram, Bernie spent over $350,000 in advertising targeting millennials on the two platforms during the Iowa caucuses, and as a result won almost 85 percent of young voters.
Trump and Clinton Lose Millennials on Social
For others in the presidential race, the social buzz from the young crowd hasn’t been as positive. Despite their leads in the polls overall, the social chatter surrounding Trump and Clinton has been overwhelmingly negative, especially among young voters who have passed around many memes and “bashtags” about the two candidates. Clinton, to them, looks to be one of the establishment’s puppeteers, and Trump appears as untrustworthy, unvirtuous, and dangerous as they come.
The question now is whether Sanders can translate his social wins into actual votes. Will millennial frustration be enough to move them to the polls, many for the first time ever?