Crystal Strait Featured in Glamour Blog
Posted by Kevin Bondelli on February 20, 2008
Young, Female, Empowered… And An Uncommitted Superdelegate
Crystal Strait, 28, doesn’t like the word “superdelegate,” preferring to call herself and her colleagues unpledged delegates. She’s not Wonder Woman and she doesn’t consider herself, as some commentators often say, not beholden to a constituency. Crystal, in fact, is an unpledged delegate by virtue of her elected position with the Young Democrats of America as their woman representative to the Democratic National Convention. As a former two-term President of the California Young Democrats, she feels that her role as an unpledged delegate is to represent the needs of Democratic voters between 18 and 35 years old, many of whom are women, and not just to pick who she personally would prefer.
And what are those needs? “Democrats 18-35” spans two generations (Gens X and Y) and the entire country, let alone class, racial, and gender lines and everything else that divides us. What Crystal is looking for in a Presidential candidate is someone who is committed to work it will take to get young voters to the polls in November and beyond. She notes that in about 10 years the so-called “Millennial Generation” will make up 25 percent of the American electorate, but that her organization has had a difficult time convincing campaign staffers that young people represent a significant voting bloc. Crystal says campaign managers “have to get their candidates to 50+1, and have limited resources, so they concentrate their resources on people who have voted in the last 5 elections because they know that those people are definitely going to vote.”
In addition, campaign managers are slowly realizing that their traditional, and time- and cost-effective tactics don’t work as well with young people. Young voters don’t respond to robo-calls (heck, most of them don’t have landlines) or door-hangers or mailings. They respond to peer-to-peer contacts, which is more difficult for campaigns to organize and, in Crystal’s experience, the first thing that gets cut when campaigns have to make tough decisions. “What we’ve seen time and time again,” she says “is that candidates will talk about the importance of young voters as a demographic, but when campaigns start making decisions given limited resources, young voters get chopped off the list and it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
While Crystal has heard from both candidates’ surrogates and even Hillary Clinton herself, she’s not starry-eyed about why they are calling her these days or even swayed but the “wow” factor. She says, “I want my vote to go with the candidate that is going to invest the resources it’s going to take to get the young people to the polls in November,” and thinks that she is best served in that goal by staying uncommitted until much closer to the convention- so don’t look for her name on an endorsements list any time soon.