PHILADELPHIA — As Hillary Clinton prepares to receive the Democratic presidential party nomination Tuesday, her campaign said it’s been ramping up efforts to win over millennial voters, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who tend to favor Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) over the former secretary of state.
The news came at a Tuesday morning press conference with senior Clinton campaign officials, who said they learned during the primaries that relationships built early on in communities of color really mattered, and that their national messages on the issues must be tailored to specific communities.
“Today, we get a chance to really showcase all the fights she’s really had over the course of her career,” said Amanda Renteria, Clinton’s national political director, who added that Clinton’s years of outreach extend to the AAPI, African-American, Latino, and LGBTQ communities.
In January, Clinton’s campaign launched AAPI for Hillary in an effort to engage an electorate that accounted for 3.8 percent of eligible voters in the last presidential election — and that is expected to double by 2040.
While AAPI registered voters view Clinton more favorably than Sanders, three in four between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer the Vermont senator, compared to one in two who said the same of Clinton, according to a survey from nonpartisan advocacy groups released in May.
This week, Sanders has attracted thousands of boisterous protesters to the convention, including younger AAPIs upset with the Democratic nomination process and Clinton’s candidacy.
Renteria said she believes the millennial AAPI support for Sanders follows a larger trend among that demographic.
“We realized after the primary that we understand Bernie Sanders did very well with the millennial voters in the primary,” added Clinton campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “We know that we have to do something different in order to get those voters.”
To that end, Renteria said the Clinton campaign has been building up its millennial youth program on college campuses, hiring Bernie Sanders' director of student organizing, Kunoor Ojha, in June. But the campaign is also pursuing millennials elsewhere, including the one-third that have children, Hinojosa said.
Earlier this month, Clinton’s millennial outreach team began a tour of the U.S., traveling to key battleground states to engage various voter blocs, including the younger AAPI electorate, Hinojosa said.
It remains to be seen whether AAPI Sanders’ supporters will fall in line with the Democratic party and support Clinton, or give their vote to Green Party candidate Jill Stein, popular with Sanders’ supporters, or even GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“One thing we’re doing a better job of is going out and listening to millennials,” Hinojosa said. “Millennial voters don’t want to be talked to. They want a two-way conversation, and so that is something we’re trying to do more of.”