For yet another election cycle, candidates are going after a population cohort that simply is not as engaged in politics as people believe. In every election since 1992, pundits, pollsters and political strategists have declared that they have the secret to engaging the under 30 voter, and each time the results have been disappointing. While it may be true that the pure number of young voters have gone up, their particiaption rate in voting and politics has remained very consistent.
Hillary's woman problem is that her reach among women over 30 (I don't want to use the term older women) is unlikely to change much. Most of the country over the age of 30 have a solid impression of the New York Senator and those positions are very unlikely to change. Those views don't bode well for Clinton since most of the polling of people over the age of 30 and their views of Clinton remain largely unchanged. To pour more salt in teh wound, the gender gap for Hillary Clinton is not nearly as large as it would need to be to overcome her other demographic deficiencies.
So Hillary Clinton must turn to a band of voters who traditionally don't vote--the under 30 crowd. Thus the lame attempt described by Milbank.
With all the Secret Service agents and the metal barriers keeping the VIPs from the masses, Club 44 -- a reference to Clinton's desire to become the 44th president -- might have been just another political rally, except for the groovy raffle prizes ("an insider's campaign briefing . . . for you and 10 of your friends!"). Watching the festivities, Stan Combs of Maryland called himself a big Hillary Clinton fan but professed no interest in the face paint or the moon bounce. "I'm a little old," explained Combs, 67.If your goal is to move young voters, these are not people who are going to do it.
The results were, perhaps, to be expected, considering that the event's "Council of Champions" was packed with septuagenarians Albright (age 70), Maya Angelou (79), Dolores Huerta (77) and Geraldine Ferraro (71). A relative youngster on the council, tennis great Billie Jean King, won her last Wimbledon title years before anybody in the 18-to-24 cohort was born.
Another factor hindering Clinton in this effort is that it seems so transparent and that turns off the younger voter. Clinton's appeal to younger voters smacks of fakery and that may be the one thing guaranteed to irriate younger voters.
Appealing to young voters is unlikely to happen in this race--unless your name is Barack Obama and his appeal will be limited as well. The secret to motivating voters is not being hip or cool or even appealing to issues that matter to them. I don't know what the secret is, but if you are looking for clues, look to what motivates other voters--home ownership, church attendence, community involvement, volunteerism and education. These factors drive voting--not age and certainly not grandmothers trying to be cool.