The Bernie Bump

Bernie Sanders with Zephyr Teachout in New Paltz, N.Y. on Friday. Ms. Teachout is running for the House of Representatives.

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — This crunchy college town, between the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains, feels like an ideal place for a Woodstock attendee to retire. Amble down Main Street, and you’ll see a yoga studio, a gluten-free bakery and a clothing store called the Groovy Blueberry. “I’m already against the NEXT war,” a passing bumper sticker reads.

Make no mistake: This is Bernie Sanders country.

The Vermont senator got a hero’s welcome here on Friday when he emerged onstage at a park near the State University of New York’s New Paltz campus. He was there to campaign for Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat and Fordham University law professor who is in a tight race to represent New York’s 19th Congressional District, which includes New Paltz.

Now that his presidential ambitions have been dashed, Mr. Sanders seems to understand that his role is to act as a sort of political conduit, transmitting progressive voters’ undying love for him to state and local candidates. And, he hopes, getting Hillary Clinton elected president, too. Few of the young people I talked to at the rally had heard of Ms. Teachout or the congressional race. But Mr. Sanders had brought them there, and they were open to learning more.

“There are 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Mr. Sanders told the crowd. “You are about to elect the most outstanding member, a leader at a time when we need leaders.”

At one point in his speech on Friday, the crowd broke into a chant: “Bernie! Bernie!” Mr. Sanders responded, “All right, that ‘Bernie!’ has now got to be transferred to ‘Zephyr!’ ”

But it’s unclear if voters — especially young voters — will get as excited about local candidates like Ms. Teachout as they did about Mr. Sanders. After Mr. Sanders ended his speech, before Ms. Teachout took the stage, a few students headed back to campus, perhaps worried about getting to class.

Mr. Sanders should have been speaking to a receptive audience; the district voted for him over Mrs. Clinton by 58 percent to 41 percent in the state’s presidential primary. And if elected, Ms. Teachout could be the closest analogue Mr. Sanders has in the House of Representatives. Before entering politics, she oversaw the Sunlight Foundation, a group focused on government transparency and campaign finance reform. In 2014, she made a surprisingly strong showing in the Democratic primary for governor against the incumbent, Andrew M. Cuomo.

“Bernie has done an amazing job reaching young people,” Ms. Teachout said in an interview after the rally. “Young people care about water and jobs just as much as anybody else. And what Bernie has done by speaking truth to power is connected to young people who are tired of career politicians and want to hear somebody just saying, ‘Hey! The billionaires have a problem.’ ”

In her race against the Republican nominee, John Faso — a former state assemblyman who mounted an unsuccessful bid for New York governor in 2006 — Ms. Teachout has challenged two of his biggest “super PAC” donors to a debate. (They have not responded to her request.) And like Mr. Sanders, she splits with party leaders on trade, calling international trade deals like Nafta and the Trans-Pacific Partnership “disastrous.”

She’s even taken a page out of his stump speech, emphasizing her own small-dollar donations over her opponent’s super PAC funding.

“Bernie Sanders’s average contribution was $27. What’s our average contribution?” Ms. Teachout asked attendees, who responded dutifully: “Nineteen dollars!”

Jessica Visconte, a senior at SUNY New Paltz, said she hadn’t heard of Ms. Teachout before the rally. She added that many of her fellow students voted for Mr. Sanders in the presidential race, and have now turned their support to the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. She said she found Mrs. Clinton untrustworthy because of her shifting stance on issues.

“I feel like a lot of her opinions have changed over the course of the campaign,” she said. “But if she’s learning new things, that’s good, too.”

For now, she’s undecided between Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Stein, but knows one thing for sure.

“I know I’m not voting for a Republican,” she said. “That’s the consensus I’ve reached.”

Constance Rudd, a retired court stenographer from Kingston, N.Y., said she voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and supported Ms. Teachout when she ran for governor in 2014. In the presidential race this year, she’s tempted to vote for Ms. Stein, but said she will probably end up voting for Mrs. Clinton.

“In this blue state, we have the luxury of voting our hearts,” she said.

And what about Donald Trump?

“If it gives you any indication, I bought a Trump dog toy,” she said, adding that she was excited to get it home and have her dog “sink her teeth into it.”

Duncan Gilchrist, a recent graduate of American University in Washington, also planned to exercise the luxury of voting with his heart. He ran for, and won, his race to support Mr. Sanders as a delegate from New York’s 18th Congressional District, but didn’t end up going to the Democratic National Convention, citing prohibitively expensive hotel rates in Philadelphia that week.

He said he’s going to vote for Ms. Stein instead of Mrs. Clinton, in part because he knows Mrs. Clinton will likely win New York regardless.

“I’m going to use my vote as an opportunity to actually vote my conscience, which is kind of a rare privilege,” he said.

Some young voters trust Mr. Sanders, and will follow his lead, more than almost any other politician, except when it comes to one issue: voting for Mrs. Clinton. Recently, Mr. Sanders has become more urgent in calling on young voters — more of whom voted for him in the primaries than for Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump combined — not to back a third-party candidate.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” last week, Mr. Sanders urged young voters not to get “hung up” on the story of the day, but to look at the real policy differences between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, especially on climate change, women’s health, gay marriage and student debt.

“Before you cast a ‘protest vote’ — because either Clinton or Trump will become president — think hard about it,” he said. “This is not a governor’s race, this is not a state legislative race. This is the presidency of the United States. And I would say to those people out there who are thinking of the ‘protest vote,’ think about what the country looks like and whether you’re comfortable with four years of a Trump presidency.”

Mrs. Clinton has been on a tour “laying out the stakes of November’s election for millennial voters,” with appearances from Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren in Ohio, and her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, in Iowa. On Monday, Mrs. Clinton attempted to buttress her relationship with young voters with a speech at Temple University.

“Even if you’re totally opposed to Donald Trump, you may still have some questions about me. I get that, and I want to do my best to answer those questions,” she said, later adding: “I can’t promise you’ll agree with me all the time, but I can promise you this: No one will work harder to make your life better.”

Mrs. Clinton does seem poised to win the youth vote — the question is, by how much? A recent USA Today/Rock the Vote poll found that 50 percent of millennials overall, and 72 percent of Mr. Sanders’s young supporters, would vote for Mrs. Clinton on a ballot that includes third-party candidates.

Still, some young Sanders supporters appear wary of backing Mrs. Clinton. A recent New York Times poll found that support for Mrs. Clinton among likely voters under 30 dropped by 10 points when Mr. Johnson and Ms. Stein were included as options. However, the number of young voters who claim to see no discernible difference between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump on the issues appears to be shrinking.

If young voters do turn out for Mrs. Clinton in November, that doesn’t mean they’ll take Greyhound buses to swing states to knock on doors in for her campaign. For many older millennials, Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 was a moment of political awakening. For many younger millennials, Mr. Sanders’s run served as a similar awakening. Mrs. Clinton’s own historic candidacy is treated as an afterthought.

Brianna Alberga, a freshman political science major, was making her way across the field in New Paltz carrying a small skateboard when she was accosted by both a reporter and a volunteer from the Teachout campaign.

She said she’d voted for Mr. Sanders in the presidential primary, and argued with her mother and grandparents, who voted for Mrs. Clinton.

“I might vote for Hillary, but I don’t want to,” she said, adding that she’s afraid Mrs. Clinton won’t follow through on the promises she made after Mr. Sanders pushed her campaign to the left in the primary.

“But I hope she proves me wrong,” she added.

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