The real story of how Bernie Sanders became the candidate of millennials

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

The Bernie Sanders Effect: Moving Millennials Left

With just a handful of states left to vote in the primary, it's a near-certainty that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee, as he trails Hillary Clinton by hundreds of delegates and millions of popular votes.

But the fact that Sanders went as far as he did in the primary is in large part attributable to his dominance among millennials, who backed his bid in staggering numbers.

In fact, Sanders might be the most popular Democratic candidate ever among young voters, according to an analysis from Princeton professor Matt Karp.

How the youth were won: Sanders' support among young people is nothing short of stunning, especially given where he started when the contest began.

More than a year ago, when the Harvard Institute of Politics conducted its first presidential poll of millennials, Sanders' support stood at 1%.

See some of Sanders' most passionate supporters:

19 PHOTOS
Young Sanders supporters
See Gallery
The real story of how Bernie Sanders became the candidate of millennials
A supporter waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporter Shawnee Badger, 22, waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporter Mette Peluce, 11, waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Joshua Zepeda of Escondido, takes off his shirt as he attends a rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Vista, California, United States, May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Isaiah Erich of San Diego, 14, shows off his dislike for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he skateboards with friends outside a rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in National City, California, United States May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake TEMPLATE OUT
VALLEJO, CA - MAY 18: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains profanity.) A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders holds an anti-Hillary Clinton sign during a campaign rally at Waterfront Park on May 18, 2016 in Vallejo, California. A day after winning the Oregon primary, Bernie Sanders is campaigning in California ahead of the state's presidential primary on June 7. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wears a wig in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Suzanne Tufan, with her face painted, waits for a campaign rally with U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in Washington Square Park in in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York, New York April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Supporters hold signs while waiting for the start of a campaign rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Saint Mary's Park in Bronx, New York March 31, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is reflected in a supporter's sunglasses as he speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Maria, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A supporter of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reacts to the primary election results in the states of Florida, Ohio and Illinois during a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec
Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, react at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Concord, New Hampshire February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Alli Scholl, a supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, listens as he speaks at a campaign rally in Waterloo, Iowa January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders takes a selfie with supporters after a campaign rally at the South Carolina Democratic Party headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina November 21, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Supporters of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Deb Griffith and Rosa Gaia attend, 'A Future To Believe In' GOTV rally concert at Prospect Park on April 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/FilmMagic)
BINGHAMTON, NEW YORK - APRIL 11: Supporters of Bernie Sanders watch as the democratic presidential candidate speaks at a rally on April 11, 2016 in Binghamton, New York.The New York Democratic primary is scheduled for April 19th. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Now, with the primary almost over, Sanders has won more than 70% of the 17 to 29-year-old age demographic, and carried the group in all but one of the 27 states where CNN conducted exit polling over the course of the primary cycle.

The one state where he lost younger voters was Mississippi, where he garnered just 37%. One other state — Alabama — had too small a turnout among 17 to 29-year-olds to register on the exit poll.

Experts say part of the reason Sanders was able to clean up with young voters is his message spoke to their generation. That included his forceful admonition of the crushing student debt many face, as well as his fiery anti-Wall Street rhetoric — a group many young voters associate with the financial struggles their parents faced during the recession in 2008.

"This group of millennials came of age with their parents struggling and a Washington that was tone-deaf to their struggles," John Della Volpe, the director of Harvard's millennial poll, said in an interview. "And that's the toxic combo that has created such negative feelings of this generation related to the institutions in Washington, D.C., with Congress, the federal government, Wall Street, the media, etc. And those are the elements in which Sanders is railing against."

Youth turnout not enough: Still, despite Sanders' dominance among younger voters, the age group did not vote in large enough numbers to propel Sanders to the Democratic nomination.

And just as much as young people "Felt the Bern," older voters aged 45 to 65 — the largest voting bloc — backed Clinton by a wide margin, propelling her toward the nomination.

Clinton won the 45 to 65 demographic with more than 65%, according to CNN's exit polls, and it's a number that grows if you include the 65 and older demographic.

Looking toward the general election, however, Clinton will need to win over the young voters who supported Sanders' bid as she seeks to to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, and data show Sanders' army of young voters are likely to swing her way, in time.

According to the Harvard Institute of Politics survey, 80% of Sanders younger supporters said they'd vote for Clinton over Trump.

"The early indication we have is that when you have a choice between Clinton and Trump, overwhelmingly the Sanders voter chooses Clinton," Della Volpe said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners