Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies, unnerved by the tightening presidential race, are making a major push to dissuade disaffected voters from backing third-party candidates, and pouring more energy into Rust Belt states, where Donald J. Trump is gaining ground.
With Mrs. Clinton enduring one of the rockiest stretches of her second bid for the presidency, her campaign and affiliated Democratic groups are shifting their focus to those voters, many of them millennials, who recoil at Mr. Trump, her Republican opponent, but now favor the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, or the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.
While still optimistic that the race will turn decisively back in Mrs. Clinton’s favor after the debates, leading Democrats have been alarmed by the drift of young voters toward the third-party candidates.
The principal “super PAC” supporting Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, Priorities USA Action, has concluded from its polling and other research that the reluctance to embrace the Democratic nominee among those who intensely dislike Mr. Trump is not going away and must be confronted.
“We’ll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what’s at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump, who is against everything these voters stand for,” said Justin Barasky, a strategist for Priorities USA.
Mrs. Clinton may also get an assist from one Democrat who has been largely quiet about the race, but can testify to the importance of resisting the third-party temptation: former Vice President Al Gore. Her staff has had conversations with aides to Mr. Gore about bringing him onto the campaign trail to emphasize the importance of supporting Mrs. Clinton if they want to make progress on combating climate change.
Hate to begin by pointing out the obvious, but if Al Gore is your go-to rally guy your campaign has serious problems. Then again, he may be the one politician on the planet who makes Hillary look animated and spontaneous.
Hillary’s problems with the youth vote have dogged her since 2008, and they have only gotten worse this year. Young voters overwhelmingly preferred Bernie Sanders in the Democrats’ sham primary. It isn’t likely that her appeal will grow with a big digital ad buy.
She did get an assist today when it was announced that neither Gary Johnson or Jill Stein would be in the first debate. Her entire campaign strategy thus far has been just waiting around until Trump makes a bonehead move. Until recently, it worked. It’s highly unlikely she’d be very nimble in a debate where she’s getting attacked from more than one candidate, especially since she didn’t even have to deal with that much during the primaries.
The Gore thing points to the fact that Camp Clinton is flailing in another way. Do the Democrats really need a hard sell on the climate change front? It just seems like they are grasping for anything to get Granny Vapors back on some ideological footing after a week of lousy poll news. There isn’t one magic issue out there that will, after year, suddenly resonate with the young voters who are turned off by her, the DNC, and the way Bernie Sanders was treated.