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Advice

Hillary Clinton’s Shy Supporters Explain Her Huge Voter Turnouts

June 9, 2016

'When we fail to listen to women’s voices well in the public sphere, we miscalculate what women are actually thinking and doing in private'

This was originally posted on social media by Joanna Castle Miller.

Over the last week, I spent time with all of the three major campaigns here in California as part of the show I’ve been working on called Red, White and Dad. Everyone I met was polite, energized and passionate. But I noticed one big difference between Hillary’s supporters and everyone else’s.

When I spoke with Trump and Bernie supporters, they were mostly eager to get in front of a camera. They spoke with a lot of confidence, and they spoke very freely.

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Almost all of Hillary’s volunteers (approximately the same number as were at Bernie’s office that same day) were women, of varying age and race. And her supporters did not clamor for the camera. It was the opposite. They wanted to be interviewed, but they debated it for what seemed like forever. They got quiet and asked questions like, “Will my name be used?” “Where will this be seen?” and “Can I wear sunglasses?” Some of them thanked me and said no, and they looked really sad about it. When I pressed them, they told me they were terrified of the online threats they might receive and, in some cases, had already received. Even lead organizers admitted they hadn’t put up a yard sign or bumper sticker for fear of retaliation. When women walked in to volunteer for the phone bank, they were assured they wouldn’t have to give their names if they were afraid.

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Hillary’s office was tucked away in a dying mall, with little hand-drawn posters taped up, cheerleader-style. It was cheery, but quiet and nearly invisible. A lot like those volunteers.

This is not to generalize all women as Hillary supporters or as timid—of course not! But I personally believe there’s a correlation between her largely female volunteer base (as of now), her unexpected voter turnout and the fear so many women have of expressing themselves online, or on the street or in the board room.

Read more: Hillary Clinton Just Changed the Scope of Possibility for All Women

A lot of people on social media have wondered where all of Hillary’s votes came from because there was no signage, no outpouring of love on Facebook. It shouldn’t surprise us that when we fail to listen to women’s voices well in the public sphere, we miscalculate what women are actually thinking and doing in private. We didn’t know where Hillary’s votes were coming from because they didn’t feel it was safe for them to tell us in the first place.

Joanna Castle Miller is a writer, producer and comedian. She is currently documenting her father’s third party run for president, and you can follow along at redwhiteanddad.com.