Hillary Clinton pulled out a shocking win at the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, but amid all the pandemonium at her victory shindig, she made sure to give thanks to a key demographic: people like you.
Not long after her upset — and firing up supporters with a victory speech at the Southern New Hampshire University gymnasium in Manchester — Clinton chatted with us about the role young people played in her win and their involvement with politics, an interest that seems especially piqued this year.
“There is a movement for political involvement, and we are thrilled to see it,” Clinton told MTV News. “My support among young people will grow. It is really picking up a lot of energy and steam, and we are going to be doing more and more outreach.
“We want young people to really give us their ideas,” she continued. Referring to a recent Facebook Q&A during which more than 3,000 questions were submitted to her, Clinton said, “We want young people to really give us their ideas. There were a lot of great thoughts up there, not only on politics but how we solve problems, what we want for our future. So I am excited, and I want to really invite all of your viewers to be part of what we are trying to do, because we intend to seize the future.”
As it turns out, we also caught up with the New York senator earlier in the day for an exclusive interview, during which she gabbed about working “on behalf of young people for most of my life.” And on Sunday, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, also emphasized in an exclusive interview with MTV News the importance of getting out the youth vote, saying, “We’ve reached out to young people here [in New Hampshire,] and I think we just have to keep trying.”
Well, all that hard work — especially efforts made at the tail end of the New Hampshire primary cycle — may well have paid off. Clinton made some headway among young Democratic voters under age 30, even if they only made up 18 percent of the New Hampshire electorate, according to the exit poll conducted for the National Election Pool (ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News). She also nudged by rival Senator Barack Obama — who creamed her in the Iowa caucus in terms of young voters — among 25- to 29-year-olds, landing 37 percent to Obama’s 35 percent. Clinton also narrowed the gap among the youngest voters — only 10 percent of Democrats ages 17-24 voted for her in Iowa, compared to 57 percent for Obama, while Clinton rose to get 22 percent of the Democratic vote among 18- to 24-year-olds in New Hampshire, to Obama’s 60 percent.
In particular, Clinton might owe her daughter, Chelsea, for the youth-vote bump. “I really thank my daughter for that because Chelsea, she’s … only been on the campaign for a couple of weeks, and she said, ’Mom, hey, we can do so much more,’ so she and one of her really good friends have come onboard to come help us to do what we really should’ve been doing all along, but which we are determined we are going to do better than anyone else right now.”
Speaking of young women, they also factored into Clinton’s strong Tuesday outing. Whereas her campaign targeted an older female demographic in Iowa, its attention had turned more specifically toward young female voters following the caucus, especially given Obama’s huge success in the demographic. On Tuesday, Clinton won back the female vote by a large margin after it had unexpectedly gone to Obama in the Iowa caucus. According to the exit poll, Clinton nabbed 46 percent of the female vote, while Obama earned 34, a margin that could have explained her slim victory. Among male voters, Obama beat out Clinton 42 percent to 30 percent, but female voters outnumbered male ones in the Democratic primary by 57-43 percent — a much wider gap than in Iowa.
Those boosted numbers were represented during Clinton’s victory speech, when seated young people acted as the backdrop. The TV images were a far cry from her Thursday concession speech, during which she was seen with members of the Washington, D.C., establishment: namely, Bill Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeline Albright. In his widely publicized Thursday speech, Obama had emphasized to his supporters that “our time for change has come!,” which contrasted sharply with the images of Clinton with her husband and Albright.
But Clinton didn’t just seem to take note of young people superficially — with a growing emphasis this campaign cycle on hope, the future and looking forward, Clinton sounded many of those same notes in her Tuesday night chat with MTV News. “I have always believed that elections are about the future,” she said. “I want to give this election back to the people of this country, but especially the young people.”
Widening the scope of her vision even greater, Clinton encouraged young people to “be involved and active in making a more peaceful, prosperous, hopeful future where you can feel that you are making not only a better life for yourself but you are influencing your country, your community, to do that for everybody, because we will all be better off when we respect one another [and] listen to one another. There is great diversity in this world, which makes it an interesting and exciting place to be. But sometimes our diversity causes misunderstanding and even conflict. Young people should be peacemakers. Your future demands that we have a peaceful world, and I want to work to make that happen when I am the president.”
Keep checking in MTV News for more coverage of the New Hampshire primary throughout the week, and don’t miss another exclusive interview with Senator Hillary Clinton, as well as ones with former President Bill Clinton and John McCain’s daughter Meghan.