Elections

Clinton has strong potential with young voters – if they vote

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School, in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Abraham Lincoln High School, in Des Moines, Iowa, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. AP

Hillary Clinton has "extraordinary potential" to do very well with young voters this November, but it won’t be easy.

"While Secretary Clinton moves into the general election with a large number of young liberal and Democratically inclined potential voters, her campaign has a long way to go to both persuade and mobilize many of these youth," said CIRCLE at Tufts University, which studies youth voter trends, in a report on youth voting released Thursday.

One key to Clinton’s success with this group will involve turnout. She was not popular with younger voters during the primaries, but the study found Clinton is likely to attract many supporters of Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.

The report found that Republican Donald Trump "faces a steep hill to climb in order to make headway among youth, especially among youth of color, less than 10 percent of whom report they intend to vote for him." The study cited a June GenForward survey.

It found a strong majority believed Trump lacks the qualifications to be president, and in a July YouGov survey, nearly three of four called Trump "dangerous."

"These numbers point to extraordinary potential for Hillary Clinton to garner a significant proportion of the youth vote this November," CIRCLE found, "but they are not a guarantee that young people will turn out to vote."

The GenForward poll found 38 percent saying they’d back Clinton, 22 percent "someone else," 17 percent for Donald Trump, and 16 percent saying they probably wouldn’t vote.

Turnout in 2012 among 18-to-29 year olds was 45 percent, down from 51 percent in 2008. Clinton’s strongest youth support came from Asian-Americans and African-Americans. White youth were divided, with 30 percent backing Clinton and 26 percent for Trump.

"At least half of young people have negative views of Secretary Clinton, and similar numbers do not find her honest and trustworthy," the report said.

"While more youth report that they intend to vote for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump, who has even lower favorability numbers, her support is not overwhelming, especially in polling that includes third-party candidates."

But it did not Clinton "may enjoy higher support from constituents that have been especially supportive of other recent Democratic presidential nominees, such as young single women, young Black women, and young Latinas."

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

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