The Meme About Clinton That Won’t Die

Harvard’s Institute of Politics released a poll today with the headline: “Clinton In Commanding Lead Over Trump Among Young Voters.”

A new national poll of America’s 18 to 29 year olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 28%. Clinton captured 49% of likely young voters’ support while Trump received 21% in a four-way race. Gary Johnson garnered 14% and Jill Stein received 5%, with 11% remaining undecided. Clinton is also polling ahead of President Obama’s 2012 polling numbers among key groups within this demographic…

49% of 18 to 29 year olds indicate that they will “definitely be voting” in this election, one point higher than the 48% who indicated the same in 2012.

You would think that might finally put to rest this idea that Clinton is having trouble wooing millennials, wouldn’t you? But that is not what Yamiche Alcindor of the NYT took from the poll.

Hillary Clinton has strengthened her position slightly among young voters, but she has struggled to take full advantage of Donald J. Trump’s rising unpopularity, a new poll shows…

The results show that Mrs. Clinton will have to convince many young people that they should trust her to grapple with some of the nation’s biggest issues.

Mrs. Clinton has had problems attracting millennials throughout her campaign. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont outperformed her among young voters in the Democratic primary, and many of them are shunning the two major political parties in the general election.

This is quite interesting. On the one hand, Harvard IOP sees a “commanding” lead for Clinton among millennials with turnout likely to be equal to, if not better than, 2012. On the other, Alcindor looks at exactly the same data and sees Clinton struggling, while needing to “convince many young people that they should trust her.”

That is the power of narrative. Once you buy into the idea that Clinton is having trouble with millennials, it is almost impossible to break out of it. In the back of Alcindor’s mind, she has to do better than a 28 point lead to be successful with young people. Who knows how high that bar is?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .