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For Young Voters, 'Hope and Change' Is Dead


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PHILADELPHIA—There was remarkably little idealism in the roomful of undecided young voters that convened here on Wednesday.


Asked to find a picture that represents America, the participants in this focus group—eight suburban voters in their 20s, with varying backgrounds—chose negative portraits: a circus, a frightened person, people looking at their phones instead of each other, "Hands Up Don't Shoot." One picked a photo of rapturous Trump supporters at a rally and said it reminded him of Germans welcoming Adolf Hitler.


Eight years ago, young voters thronged rapturous rallies for then-candidate Barack Obama. Earlier this year, they flocked to Bernie Sanders. But as Election Day nears, the natural idealism of youth is finding little political expression. Instead, if this group is any indication—and polls suggest it is—young people are just as bummed out as the rest of America about their choices in the presidential race.


"I wouldn't say I'm excited about anyone," said Tim, a 26-year-old white man who works as a business consultant.


It's not that they're pessimistic, necessarily. They all have jobs and seemingly stable lives; they expressed hope for their future prospects. But their evaluation of the candidates was grim.


Donald Trump: "evil," "bully," "bigot," "misogynist." Hillary Clinton: "shady," "corrupt," "liar," "untrustworthy."


That's not to say they were equally negative on both major-party candidates. Of the eight people in this group, convened by Harvard University's Institute of Politics, just one—a 26-year-old white woman—was considering voting for Trump. A college graduate who works as a nanny and didn't want her name used, the woman described herself as a pro-choice former Democrat who's become overwhelmingly afraid of terrorism, but has concerns about Trump's temperament.


Of the other seven focus-group members, none were considering a Trump vote. But neither were they sold on Clinton. Asked to describe her in a few words, they tended to pair positive and negative attributes: "Shady but knowledgeable," said a male Asian-American medical student. "Hardworking, corrupt, real-deal politician," said a female African American office worker.



The post Hope and Change generation.

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