Fresh off the New Hampshire primary and on the same day news broke that the Clinton Foundation had been subpoenaed by the State Department last fall, Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton faced off Thursday night in Milwaukee. The candidates spent the majority of the debate in disagreement, arguing who would be tougher on Wall Street and who has criticized President Obama more.
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In New York City (just under 900 miles away from Milwaukee), approximately 40 members of the Roosevelt Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit organization connected to the Roosevelt Library, watched the debate while laughing at Sanders’ wagging finger and chatting with one another. The group was comprised of young Millennials, both in college and alumni.
This year, Millennials will make up 31% of eligible voters according to the Pew Research Center, a substantial group for any candidate to not ignore.
FOXBusiness.com stopped by the Roosevelt Institute’s debate viewing party to get an inside look at what Millennials thought.
For many of the students attending last night, 2016 will be their first time not only voting, but also their first time voting in a presidential election--for them, the excitement is very high.
It’s safe to say that no Millennial would watch a debate disconnected. Every single person in the room had a smartphone in hand, tweeting (NYSE:TWTR) their thoughts, and making GIFs (graphics interchange format) and memes to post on social media. If candidates want to reach Millennials during the debates, head to a mobile platform.
When Sanders spoke about his Wall Street Speculation Tax, one viewer said “I like Sanders’ plans, but I don’t know how he’s gonna pay for them.” And when Hillary spoke of her plans and policies, firmly accompanied with her fist-pounding the podium, many students clapped, cheered and nodded their heads in approval. Still, the room listened with open and eager ears to both candidates' plans.
Millennial viewers not only want to hear specific policy outlines, but they also want to be entertained during a two hour debate. Debates in this election cycle are often highlighted by the frequency of sarcastic or entertaining comments, which this debate delivered on. For the back and forth snarkiness between the candidates, students told me that Sanders won that battle, most notably for his remark "One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate". When Sanders made snide comments, the room laughed; but when Clinton referred to the pre- Obamacare as "Hillarycare," multiple "that’s so snarky" comments murmured throughout the room.
Sanders seemed to entertain Millennial viewers the most with not only his wagging finger, but also with awkwardly phrased lines like "do marijuana." One could argue that these actions and comments highlight the vast age difference between Sanders and Millennials, but students seemed to be unperturbed by that.
“Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are working towards reaching out to Millennials and trying to hear what Millennials want because we’re becoming such a big part of the vote this year,” said Nicole Felmus, 19, a sophomore at Columbia University.
On the two occasions that Sanders said "huge," that word was met with exaggerated "yuge" comments from the viewers. It goes to show that even when Trump isn’t there, he’s always there.