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Young Voters In Pennsylvania Weigh In On Why Clinton Failed To Win State


In Tuesday's election, millennials supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but they did not turn out in the same numbers that they did for President Barack Obama. We'll break the numbers down in just a moment.

First let's hear from some of those young voters in Pennsylvania. This was the first time the state went Republican in a presidential election since 1988. NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: If you're trying to find millennials, a good place to look is the Easton Public Market. It's a new farmer's market and food court in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley about 60 miles north of Philadelphia.

SARAH RICKER: Grab your change.

ROSE: That's where I meet Sarah Ricker (ph) working behind the bakery counter. She's wearing a knit hat indoors, piercing under her lip. She voted for Hillary Clinton, but she gets why a lot of other millennials didn't.

RICKER: I was actually, like, excited to have a woman be running. I just wish it wasn't her. I just wish there was somebody that was just a little bit more convincing I think. She's experienced. She's smart. She knows what she's frickin (ph) doing. But she just wasn't charming. She just didn't have that same charm that Barack Obama has.

ROSE: Obama won 60 percent of the millennial vote. Clinton only got about 55 percent. Ricker thinks she could have reached out to younger voters by doing more talk shows, maybe laughing at herself a bit more.

RICKER: That's the stuff that millennials and, like, the younger voters are paying attention to. If she did that and did it right, I think she would have gained a lot more support from the younger voters.

ROSE: Head up the hill from downtown Easton, and you'll find Lafayette College. I talked to a lot of students on this leafy campus who voted in the election and a few who didn't, like Will Mansen (ph), a sophomore from New York.

WILL MANSEN: I just never got around to registering. It was more of a lazy thing, and I didn't really like either candidates. And I should have upheld my civic duty, but I didn't. So I kind of regret it now.

JENNY GOASH: If you didn't vote, I don't understand what you're expecting.

ROSE: Jenny Goash (ph) is a sophomore from Maryland. She voted for Clinton, but she knows a lot of people who didn't vote at all.

GOASH: A lot of people on this campus, a lot of my friends from high school, a lot of people from different backgrounds who didn't vote.

ROSE: It appears that more young voters also opted for third party candidates this year. That also might have hurt Clinton in Pennsylvania, which hasn't gone to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.

Northampton County where Easton is flipped from blue to red as well. Downtown Easton has its share of new restaurants and an upscale market, but some storefronts are empty. The busiest shop seems to be the Dollar Store, and it's not hard to find millennials who support Donald Trump.

I met Brian Elisio (ph) waiting for a haircut at a barber shop.

BRIAN ELISIO: Well, I don't think people are stupid anymore, and I think sometimes you open your eyes.

ROSE: Elisio voted for Obama twice, but this year he says he voted Republican for the first time in his life.

ELISIO: Obama was an inspiring candidate. You know, he inspired people. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, he was more inspiring than Hillary. She's obviously more corrupt.

ROSE: I heard something similar from the barbershop's owner. Ronald Corales (ph) is a first-generation American who says his father came to the country illegally in the 1980s. He knows about Donald Trump's promise to build a wall on the southern border, but that didn't stop him from voting for Trump.

RONALD CORALES: Everybody woke up. The whole email scandal I just think was a really big thing for me. Trump is not my favorite candidate, but I'll take him over Hillary.

ROSE: Trump didn't do great with younger voters either, but he did well enough to carry Pennsylvania by fewer than 70,000 votes. Joel Rose, NPR News, Easton, Pa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.