Young people are notoriously fickle political participants: We have priorities, sure, but we also often fail to turn up en masse on election day to, you know, vote. The one thing that ensures politicians listen to you! As a result, politicians often overlook young voters in favor of seniors, registered party members and other demographics they expect will actually show up.
But this election cycle, one candidate appears to have captured the hearts and minds of young people on a vast scale. Different polls suggest varying levels of support, but the lowest amount of support this candidate has with millennials appears to be about 60 percent.
That’s right: Surprise Democratic contender Bernie Sanders seems to have somewhere between 60 and 84 percent support from millennial Democrats. And millennials skew Democratic over Republican in a huge way, so it’s looking like Bernie Sanders is the go-to candidate for young people. Which is kind of weird… because he’s 74! But the numbers don’t lie, and neither do Sanders’ page views via memes across the web.
It’s possible that his age helps him. He does sort of seem like the coolest old dude ever, amirite? He’s got that unkempt hair (longtime Bernie fans wept when he showed up at a candidates’ debate a few months ago with a cleaner cut) and the kind of IDGAF attitude any of us can see in our grandparents. Except instead of complaining about the neighbors’ lawn gnomes while we’re on the porch, Grandma, they can hear you, Bernie Sanders is complaining about college costing too much money and America waging imperialist wars in the Middle East. That attitude, combined with the hair and his penchant for gesturing kind of wildly when he speaks, makes him seem like an ideal candidate — at least for memes. And those memes make him even more palatable to young people… even those who may not care as much about his politics as they do about Facebook likes.
Exit polls point to Bernie receiving 83 percent support from voters under 30 at the New Hampshire primary, and he won 84 percent in Iowa the week before. For a stunning number of young people, Bernie is the man to beat. After some extensive and highly scientific research, we found what might give us some clues about why young people are *feeling the Bern.* Friends, meet Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash.
Full of “dank memes,” aka memes that are sick af, the page has gotten lots of attention lately from serious news orgs like the Washington Post with the aim of explaining Bernie’s meme-peal (that’s meme appeal) to old(er) people. But we millennials get that Bernie’s Internet appeal can’t be boiled down to one single thing; like cats, he’s just ineffably meme-o-genic.
Bernie is still an outside shot at actually being elected, though studies suggest young people are more open to socialist policies than previous generations — and a Facebook search is really all you need to see who is “pre”-voting for him.
While Bernie’s freewheeling attitude — and his ever freer-flying hair — make him the perfect meme candidate, Hillary Clinton’s poised, prepared nature might be exactly what’s holding her back from being GIF-ed all the way to youth celebrity in this election cycle. Who wants to make a meme out of a serious person standing still and talking in an even tone? The very qualities that, until even a few years ago, were absolutely necessary for any serious presidential candidate are what might keep her from popularity among the tastemakers of the Internet age. Texts From Hillary seems like ancient history at this point.
As young people turn out to vote in record numbers, and go overwhelmingly for one candidate, this election could be determined in part by the meme-friendliness of a stodgy old dude from Vermont. Is this the new face of politics? The dank meme creators, and the huge youth voting bloc of which they’re a part, have the potential to reshape the political climate. But then again, maybe they’re just temporarily entranced by some wild white hair and a toothy grin.
What’s your fave electoral meme? Share it with us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Justin Sullivan/Getty + facebook.com/bernie-sanders-dank-meme-stash)