Hillary Clinton is taking aim at one of her weak points: young voters.
On Friday, just three days after securing the Democratic nomination, Clinton launched a new “millennial engagement” program, targeting voters under the age of 35 with three new hires — including one from the Bernie Sanders campaign.
The new team comes together after a long-fought primary against Sanders, the Vermont senator whose campaign was able to peel away students and twenty-somethings in large numbers. Clinton aides, now preparing for a general election against Donald Trump, view young people as a crucial piece of the electorate, building on an existing coalition of women, older voters, and people of color.
The program expands on the Clinton’s campus outreach effort, an endeavor that largely failed in primary states against Sanders. Campaign operatives now hope to widen their reach to voters under the age of 30, while keeping a focus on winning back college-age voters.
Kunoor Ojha, a former Sanders aide set to join the millennial engagement program, is the first member of the senator’s staff to join the Clinton campaign, an aide said.
The campaign plans to send the youth outreach team around the country to “listen directly to millennial voters,” according to a Clinton official. The team of three operatives will also work directly with staffers in battleground states to create local outreach programs and hold “working group” meetings with voters under 35.
Anne Hubert, formerly a senior vice president at Viacom, will lead the effort as special adviser for millennial engagement. Hubert, not from a traditional campaign background, led Viacom’s Scratch, a project focused on young consumers.
Ojha, the former Sanders staffer, will serve as national campus and student organizing director — a role that mirrors her role on the senator’s campaign.
And Sarah Audelo, a former political and field director at Rock the Vote, will be Clinton’s youth vote director, leading the team’s outreach and organizing efforts.
In the Democratic primary, voters under the age of 30 backed Sanders by wide double-digit margins. Still, with a general election match-up against Trump, Clinton strategists see the chance to gain back much of that slice of the electorate.
According to a poll this spring from the Harvard Institute of Politics, voters under 30 prefer Clinton to Trump by a wide margin: 61% said they would vote for Clinton, compared to 25% for Trump. The survey also found that young people’s interest in any Republican candidate dropped significantly over the course of the last year.
Clinton may also look to President Obama for help with young voters.
The president endorsed Clinton on Thursday in a web video, and made note of the young people who supported Sanders — just as they propelled his candidacy against Clinton, and later John McCain, in 2008. Obama, whose approval rating stands at around 50%, enjoys higher yet ratings with people under 30 in particular.
“Just like eight years ago, there are millions of Americans, not just Democrats, who have cast their ballots for the very first time,” Obama said in the video. “And a lot of that is thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders who has run an incredible campaign.”
“Embracing that message,” he said, “is going to help us win in November.”