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Millennials are notorious for their low voter turnout, but their political clout is growing. This November they will rival baby boomers in terms of the raw number of eligible voters. During the primaries, young voters were Hillary Clinton's Achilles heel. Now she's hoping they'll give her a second look. NPR's Asma Khalid just returned from Colorado, and she has this report.
ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Spencer Carnes spent his final semester senior year of college working for the Bernie Sanders campaign. He still gushes about those days and his love for campaign finance reform. But now he has a new job. He goes to college campuses across Colorado with a mission to get Hillary Clinton into the White House.
SPENCER CARNES: For me, it really wasn't a matter of switching from Senator Sanders to Secretary Clinton. It was a matter of being a Democrat. I've been a Democrat since 2004 when I was in fifth grade.
KHALID: He credits John Kerry for that. Carnes and I are talking outside the main student center at the University of Colorado Boulder. He's wearing a pair of flip flops and wire-rimmed sunglasses. And on this day, students all around us are moving into their dorms, and Carnes is here making sure they also register to vote.
CARNES: It's not so much about persuasion. It's really - this election is much more about mobilizing.
KHALID: The reason young folks are so important to Clinton's strategy is that she's trying to rebuild the Obama coalition of voters - people of color, women and millennials. A majority of young voters chose Bernie Sanders during the primaries, and some of them still need convincing.
CARNES: There are some individuals who are definitely not particularly enthused to vote at all this year. They feel disenfranchised, and no one's - no one should be blind to that fact. But what we're doing in order to engage those individuals is showing them that the Democratic Party is what you make it, that if you want it to be a party that's representational of you, then you need to participate in it.
KHALID: Carnes says the most effective way to persuade a college student is through a one-on-one conversation.
MARIEL KRAMER: Hey, have you guys gotten a chance to update your voter registration to your November addresses yet?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Already have.
KRAMER: You have?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Yep.
KRAMER: And that's exactly what Mariel Kramer is doing. She's a student organizer who scours the streets of campus from 9 a.m. till night, trying to chat about Hillary Clinton with almost anyone who will listen.
KRAMER: So I was hoping that you guys would be willing to fill out one of these cards for us.
KHALID: On this day, she spent nearly two minutes trying to convince one guy to fill out a card and volunteer for Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Yeah, understandable. And you do great work. I'm going to pass, though.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah. Thank you.
KRAMER: OK. Have a great day.
KHALID: No luck. But Kramer is persistent. She'll be out again tonight, trying to catch people as they wait in line to get into the bars. The Clinton campaign is flooding college towns like this one in part because young voters could be key deciders in battleground states.
Clinton recently penned an essay in Teen Vogue, made a pitch to a millennial-owned business in Iowa and talked up apprenticeships in Nevada. It's a broad strategy because millennials are the largest and most diverse generation to date.
SARAH AUDELO: About a third of our generation are parents. Ninety percent of babies that were born last year were born to millennials.
KHALID: That's the campaign's millennial vote director, Sarah Audelo.
AUDELO: And so a lot of what we're doing is thinking about how we're going to reach millennial parents, looking at issues like child care.
KHALID: These voters lean left, but they did not vote for her in the primaries. Andrew Baumann is a Democratic pollster who surveyed young voters in battleground states.
ANDREW BAUMANN: Millennials absolutely disdain Donald Trump. His values and his worldview are the exact opposite of most of millennial voters. So there is some driving force there to have those folks vote for Hillary. But it's not enough. They hate Trump, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily going to go to Hillary.
KHALID: In fact polls show Clinton is not yet capturing Obama levels of support with millennials. They're turned off by her opponent, but they're not in love with her either.
BAUMANN: They're not going to vote for Trump. That's not the question. The question is if they're going to look for a third party candidate or stay home. And Secretary Clinton really needs to work to make sure that that doesn't happen.
KHALID: In the next 11 weeks, her challenge is to make millennial voters as excited about her candidacy as they were for Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama. Asma Khalid, NPR News, Colorado.
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