By Evan Halper
Tribune Washington Bureau.
It was not so long ago that Hillary Clinton was relishing her status as an icon among young feminists, who cheered her resilience to political attack, her use of her stardom to advance the cause of women worldwide, even her trademark pantsuits.
But now, when Clinton needs that support the most, much of her backing among women of the millennial generation has vanished.
Locked in an increasingly tense battle for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has aggressively reached out to young women with the promise of breaking a glass ceiling that the women’s movement has worked for decades to shatter. The newest generation of feminists is responding with a shrug.
The persona cultivated by Clinton’s campaign, that of an exciting, trailblazing big sister with a “Girl Power” playlist of songs at the ready, isn’t sticking. Young female voters seem more likely to see in Clinton an overcautious mother.
In Iowa this week, women 29 and younger voted for Clinton’s challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, by a stunning margin of roughly 6 to 1, much as young men did, according to the poll of voters arriving at precinct caucuses conducted for the television networks and The Associated Press.
In advance of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, polls have shown Sanders holding the support of a majority of young women here, as well, a sharp contrast to Clinton’s dominance among women closer to her own age.
The problem is not rejection of feminism, surveys suggest millennial women are the most staunchly feminist group of voters in America. They want to see a woman in the White House. Just not necessarily this woman.
“I am excited for a future in which we will have a female president, but I don’t think Hillary is that person for this generation,” said Rachael Jennings, 28, a high school teacher in Dublin, N.H. The same sentiment was echoed over and over in interviews with younger female voters here and in Iowa.