PHILADELPHIA — Eight years ago, President Barack Obama energized a young, multicultural coalition that helped elect him to two terms in the White House.

Now that Obama has passed the baton to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton this week at the Democratic National Convention, it’s up to Clinton to court those same voters if she wants to replicate Obama’s victories.

Clinton accepted her party’s nomination in a speech to Democratic delegates here Thursday night. Then, both major parties’ conventions will be done, shifting the focus to Clinton’s general election battle with Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The 2016 electorate is expected to be the most diverse in U.S. history, creating an opening for Clinton to again tap the so-called “Obama coalition” of young and minority voters.

But it’s far from clear if Clinton can match Obama’s appeal to those groups.

Clinton faces at least three challenges: getting Obama coalition voters to support her by the overwhelming margins that they did Obama, making sure they come to the polls, and capturing supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, many of whom are millennials.

Wisconsin Democratic delegates who spoke to the Wisconsin State Journal at the convention this week offered several prescriptions for Clinton: Use surrogates with diverse backgrounds, show more compassion and humanity, and acknowledge Sanders’ influence in shaping her agenda.

Some said Clinton and her allies must stress that such voters have little choice but to back her when Trump is the alternative.

Marcelia Nicholson, a fourth-grade teacher from Milwaukee, acknowledged Clinton must overcome a perception that she’s inauthentic. Nicholson was a delegate to the national convention who supported Sanders.

“There are lot of young people and people of color who are upset that Bernie was not” the nominee, Nicholson said. “If (Clinton) can just get through that, and understand that if she opened her arms, remains compassionate ... I’m sure in time that she could unite us all and build that trust with us.”

‘Hillary needs us’

Speaking to the convention Wednesday night, Obama urged Americans to reject what he characterized as Trump’s authoritarian rhetoric, fear, divisiveness and misplaced nostalgia. Obama called on voters to support Clinton because of what he described as her experience and tenacity.

It was the sort of message that helped Obama assemble his coalition eight years ago. In addition to minorities and millennials, that coalition also included secular voters and highly educated whites.

Wooing the same pack of voters who backed Obama is not Clinton’s only path to victory. She could assemble her own coalition. But the surest and most direct path would be to draw on one that’s already constructed.

One of the challenges for Clinton or any candidate in reanimating Obama’s coalition is that two of its key groups, Latinos and young voters, have an uneven history in showing up to vote.

Jaime Alvarado, a national convention delegate from Milwaukee supporting Sanders, said he is working to change that.

Alvarado, a community organizer with the liberal group Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said Clinton may have missed a chance to help her cause by selecting a running mate who is a person of color.

Clinton picked U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Others who reportedly were considered included Latinos such as U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.

State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, represents Wisconsin’s largest concentration of Latino voters. Zamarripa, a national convention delegate supporting Clinton, said the campaign should use surrogates with diverse backgrounds to reach voters of color.

In her own work as a Clinton surrogate, Zamarripa said she expects to emphasize the candidates’ colossal divide on immigration policy. Clinton supports a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, while Trump has vowed to build a wall with Mexico and create a “massive deportation force” to drive immigrants out.

“These minority constituencies are very organically going to gravitate toward Hillary Clinton if they’re not already there,” Zamarripa said. “There is no other major presidential candidate for this coalition.

“Hillary needs us, and I believe that we absolutely need her too.”

The Trump alternative

Democratic pollster Paul Maslin said the fact that Clinton is facing Trump could be her biggest asset in wooing Obama’s coalition.

“What she may lack in her ability to excite those people, the fear of Trump’s policies and Trump’s strongman tactics may produce,” Maslin said.

Sanders, I-Vt., built his surprisingly potent presidential bid on what many voters, including millennials, saw as his authenticity and emphasis on pocketbook issues. His support for raising the minimum wage and making college free appealed to young voters disproportionately affected by those issues.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, a Clinton supporter, said Sanders supporters need to get their fellow travelers on board with Clinton.

For Moore, that admonition is personal as well as political. Her son, Supreme Moore Omokunde of Milwaukee, was a national convention delegate supporting Sanders.

“My constant refrain to him is: ‘You have a tremendous responsibility as a strident Bernie supporter to make sure that millennials and others who were Bernie supporters come into the fold and really do the work that’s necessary to win this election in November,’” Moore told reporters.

Clinton recently has moved on some issues in an apparent effort to court those in Sanders’ camp. Shortly before the convention, she issued a proposal to eliminate tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for families making $125,000 or less per year.

Nicholson, as a young African-American woman, said the issues of police use of force and racial disparities are crucial. She felt Sanders addressed them more directly than Clinton.

“I think it was something that Hillary Clinton was very political about,” Nicholson said. “If she admits that it was (Sanders’) leadership in that area that opened her eyes and helped her to realize that there’s a set of people that have been ignored for a very, very long time — then I think we can start to build that trust.”

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