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Clinton struggles to win over America's younger women

11 February 2016, 20:34

Indiana - Political "revolution" is currently trumping the idea of the first female president for America's young women.

In this week's New Hampshire primary, women under 45 overwhelmingly backed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, exit polls showed. It's a problem for the former secretary of state as she tries to build the coalition of voters needed to win the Democratic nomination.

"Even if they are not supporting me now, I support them," the former first lady said in conceding to the 74-year-old Sanders.

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Clinton has been widely expected to be the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major political party, but the New Hampshire numbers were staggering. Sanders won the votes of seven out of every 10 women under the age of 45, and nearly 80 percent of women under the age of 30.

"I think for young women, they clearly identify as feminists, they say they're feminists, but I think the notion of having a woman president it doesn't drive them in the same way, as women who are in the traditional second wave of feminism," said Debbie Walsh, director for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Young women in New Hampshire said they were more inspired by the Vermont senator's ambitious policy proposals, including a government-run health care system for all and free public college tuition.

"We always have another chance to have another woman president, but do we have another chance to have someone as genuine as Bernie Sanders is?" asked Nicole McGillicuddy, 26, who believes there will a female president in her lifetime.

Clinton and Sanders will meet for the next debate of the Democratic race on Thursday.

Compared with her 2008 bid, which focused more on experience and her readiness for the White House, Clinton has embraced her gender this time, stressing economic issues popular with women, including equal pay and family leave.

She has promoted endorsements from women's organizations and sought to impress younger women with supporters like pop star Katy Perry and actress Lena Dunham.

But the message has not resonated. Frustration over Sanders' appeal erupted over the weekend, when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said there was "a special place in hell" for women who don't help women and renowned feminist Gloria Steinem said that Sanders' female supporters were doing it to meet boys. Steinem later apologized.

Clinton is expected to fare better in the upcoming contests in Nevada and South Carolina than she did in Iowa, where she barely won, and in New Hampshire. A recent national poll from Quinnipiac University showed Clinton winning women voters 48-38 against Sanders.

Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily's List, which supports Democratic women who back abortion rights as they run for Congress and governor, said the idea Clinton was losing women was "overblown."

"We look at the national numbers and she's doing well, including on millennial women. We've seen really good energy across the county from women of all ages," Schriock said.

- AP


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