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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton hope their focus on college affordability will help the former secretary of state earn more support from the millennials who helped fuel the Vermont senator's strong performance in the Democratic primaries. (Photo: Screenshot)

Clinton Enlists Sanders in Her Quest to Win Over Elusive Millennial Voters

Bernie Sanders championed Hillary Clinton's college affordability plan at the University of New Hampshire on Wednesday

Deirdre Fulton

Bernie Sanders stumped for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on Wednesday, highlighting the former secretary of state's plans to make college affordable as she struggles to win over younger voters that flocked to the Vermont senator during their rival campaigns.

Ahead of the University of New Hampshire appearance, "Sanders said he and Clinton would promote a 'pretty radical proposal' to provide free public college tuition for working families, and discuss Clinton's 'significant proposal' to reduce student debt," USA Today reported, noting that Sanders "trounced" Clinton in the Granite State's February primary.

According to Bloomberg:

New Hampshire is emblematic of a larger Clinton problem. The youth vote was one of the pillars of the Obama coalition. But thus far it's proven perhaps the most difficult one for Clinton to rebuild. Polls show the nominee failing to earn the confidence of young voters—only 33 percent of those between ages 18-29 told Gallup this month that they approved of her—and running far behind where she would hope to be against her Republican opponent. The polls also show Clinton currently winning under half their votes, while Obama got over three-fifths of that demographic in both of his campaigns.

Indeed, a Bloomberg poll released Monday before the presidential debate—which found Clinton and her GOP opponent Donald Trump to be virtually tied—found "signs that Clinton's margins with women and young voters have eroded over the past three months, helping to explain Trump's gains."

Among likely voters under 35 years old, Clinton got 50 percent to Trump's 40 percent, down from her 29-point margin in August; when the poll added Green and Libertarian candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, Clinton's lead shrank to 40-36 percent—with Johnson getting 11 percent of the millennial vote.

A separate Quinnipiac poll, also from September, found Clinton winning just 31 percent support from likely voters 18-34. Johnson came in second with 29 percent, while Trump garnered 26 percent and Stein 15 percent.

As John Della Volpe of Harvard's Institute of Politics told Vox after Monday's debate, "The millennial vote isn't Hillary versus Trump. It's Hillary versus Gary Johnson versus sitting on the couch on Election Day."

To that end, The Hill reported Wednesday:

The Clinton campaign and its liberal allies are increasingly taking the threat from Johnson and Stein seriously, making direct appeals to young voters and punching down at the third-party candidates they view as potential spoilers.

[...] NextGen Climate, the group run by liberal billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, is on the ground in eight battleground states with a message that is almost exclusively aimed at reaching the millennial voters who are energized by the issue of climate change.

Last week, the group threw six figures behind digital ads mocking Johnson as a climate change denier and warning millennials that climate change will cost them trillions of dollars.

Perhaps also, Ed Kilgore suggested at New York Magazine, it would behoove Clinton to "find ways to remind people that Gary Johnson's Libertarians would be perfectly happy with privatizing not just prisons, but pretty much every government function short of raising an army."

Given Sanders' abiding popularity with young voters, the Clinton campaign is relying on him to fire up this demographic base.

The Atlantic wrote earlier this month:

Enter Sanders and [Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth] Warren. They might not be any younger than Clinton, but their liberalism and critique of establishment politicians have galvanized millennials, and particularly college-aged voters, like no one else in the party—Obama included.

[...] They might not be young themselves, but just like the generation they are targeting, it took them a while to warm to Clinton. And as the recent set of polling has demonstrated, persuading millennials to end their Hillary holdout could make all the difference come November.

"I think that a lot of the younger people who are concerned about the cost of college, concerned about climate change, concerned about women's rights, they're going to come on board Secretary Clinton's campaign," Sanders added Wednesday on Meet the Press Daily.

Watch Sanders and Clinton in New Hampshire below:

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