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Stanford University freshman Jake Dow, a Hillary Clinton supporter, stands outside the room he shares with a Donald Trump supporter Thursday afternoon, March 30, 2016, in Stanford, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

When Isabella Liu told a tattooed "alternative dude" she recently met at a party that she's been busy doing volunteer political work, she didn't want to tell him it was for Hillary Clinton.

"I knew he was going to be for Bernie Sanders," the 31-year-old San Jose native said. "It was super obvious to me."

She was right. But local millennials don't need to hone their intuitive powers to suss out Sanders supporters. They're everywhere -- drinking at bars, extolling democratic socialism on Facebook and canoodling on park benches.

"Bernie has even taken over my dating life," said Kaylah Williams, a 23-year-old flight attendant from South San Francisco who has joined a dating website for Sanders supporters.

A supporter shows off his "Feel the Bern" tattoo at a fundraising event for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Uptown
A supporter shows off his "Feel the Bern" tattoo at a fundraising event for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group)

"There are still some creepers on there, but overall it's great," she said. "If someone isn't for Bernie, I find it really hard to go on a date with him."

There are plenty of fish in Williams' sea thanks to the fact that the Democratic primary race has split most sharply along generational lines. Exit polls across the country show the 74-year-old senator from Vermont routinely claiming 80 percent of voters under 30, while Clinton scores nearly as well with seniors.

"I don't recall seeing anything like this in other races," said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California. His organization's recently released poll found Sanders with 63 percent support from voters under 45 and Clinton with 63 percent support from older voters.


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The Sanders social scene isn't just limited to the dating site: BernieSingles.com.

There are dance parties, debate parties, even sleepovers for campaign volunteers at so-called Bernie BNBs.

During one week last month, Christopher Ray, a San Francisco tour guide, attended three Sanders DJ parties: Bern Baby Bern, Weekend at Bernie's II and Bernhole.

"It's given me something else to do other than get wasted at a bar," said Ray, who has tattooed "Feel the Bern" on the inside of his right wrist.

Young Clinton supporters, however, say that they aren't spending their weekends alone calling undecided voters in Wisconsin. They're also finding one another and making new friends. About 200 of them attended a Millennials for Hillary party in San Francisco in February.

But they accept that they're not in with the in crowd. And that frustrates some young women, many of whom say that most of their male peers are for Sanders.

"It's not a cool thing to say I support this wonkish, very serious older lady who doesn't have Sanders' hipster appeal," said Liu, a tech entrepreneur.

Stacy Aldinger, a consultant from San Francisco, couldn't help but contrast the many middle-aged professional women on the bus that took her and other Clinton supporters to volunteer in Nevada with Sanders' Silver State crew.

Hillary Clinton laughs with Stanford freshman Jake Dow after delivering a counter terrorism address Wednesday morning, March 23, 2016, at Stanford
Hillary Clinton laughs with Stanford freshman Jake Dow after delivering a counter terrorism address Wednesday morning, March 23, 2016, at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. Clinton's address came one day after the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) (Karl Mondon)

"The Bernie group looked so much cooler than we did," Aldinger said.

Even at Stanford University, Chelsea Clinton's alma mater and never known as a hotbed of student activism, "there is definitely some social cachet and coolness to being a Bernie supporter," said freshman Jake Dow, a Hillary fan.

His classmate Ruairí Alfredo Arrieta-Kenna said several fellow students peppered him with questions last semester when he stuck a Clinton sticker on his dorm room door.

"People don't really understand why anyone would support Hillary Clinton," he said. "She has this image of being a dirty politician."

The situation for Hillary aficionados is even grimmer at UC Berkeley, where the Clinton student group stopped tabling at Sproul Plaza this semester, in part to avoid all the pestering Sanders fans. Some would say nasty things about Clinton. Others would loiter while trying to engage in policy debates.

"We'd try to usher them along," said Lydia Xia, a junior who directs campus outreach for the Clinton group. "It's hard to talk politics on campus because everyone is such a fervent Bernie supporter."

Millennials have some good reasons to flock to Sanders, said Bruce Cain, director of Stanford's Bill Lane Center for the American West.

Buttons, bumper stickers and other campaign materials are for sale at a fundraising event for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the
Buttons, bumper stickers and other campaign materials are for sale at a fundraising event for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group) (D. ROSS CAMERON)

Many of his students are disappointed that President Barack Obama, facing unyielding Republican opposition, didn't do more to tackle climate change, get big money out of politics, fix Social Security or rein in Wall Street, Cain said. And they support Sanders' plan to make college free.

"This is a whole generation that has grown up with disruption," Cain said. "They like the idea that Sanders wants to disrupt the banking system and the election system."

But Cain said Sanders and his young supporters have one other thing in common. "Neither of them," Cain said, "has any idea how to do it without the support of Congress.

"I tell them this daily, but they're going to vote their consciences."

The differences between Clinton and Sanders supporters are clearest when they're explaining candidate preference.

Clinton supporters typically stress her policies and experience. "I think it's better to be pragmatic than to be idealistic," Arrieta-Kenna said.

Aldinger noted that Clinton was the only candidate with a plan to address sexual assault on college campuses.

Sanders fans tout his authenticity. "There is just something about Bernie that is really inspiring," said Joanna Arenstein, an alternative medicine practitioner from Oakland who co-directs the group Bay Area Social Events for Bernie. "I like that he's a rebel. He's calling people out."

Her friend and co-director, Iris Safar, said Sanders was "the first politician I know that is 100 percent full of integrity." She's so devoted she made her Facebook page and Twitter feed all Bernie, all the time.

"The power and the passion behind the Bernie supporters can be pretty intense and can feel pretty ostracizing sometimes," Aldinger said. She was stunned to get awkward stares and nervous laughs when she told members of a women's health group that she had gone to Nevada to canvass for Clinton.

The sense of isolation is often more pronounced on Facebook, where Sanders supporters post frequently and aren't shy about engaging with Clintonphiles.

Angie McKee, a 30-year-old nonprofit manager, found herself being lectured to on Facebook by friends who backed Sanders. The most annoying comments, she said, were from people saying she would be truer to herself as a gay black woman if she supported Sanders, who has supported same-sex marriage since the 1990s.

"They kept trying to mansplain it to me," McKee said. "I literally told myself that I have to start exercising so my heart can be stronger."

Still, Clinton supporters think they're going to have the last laugh. Their candidate is well-positioned to win the nomination. And not only do they have each other, they have lots of new older friends who are backing the former first lady.

"Now I have these aunties to give me relationship advice," Aldinger said.

Unfortunately, she added, the advice is often as practical as the woman they want to become president.

"We decided," she said, "a better dating strategy would be to volunteer for Bernie Sanders."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435. Follow him on Twitter at matthew_artz.