The average of a series of polls, conducted after businessman Donald Trump secured the Republican Party nomination for president, shows Trump taking a slight lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While polls from conservative-friendly companies like Fox news and Rasmussen could have skewed the average, the most recent poll to show Trump with a lead was conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll does not just give Trump a 46-44% lead over Clinton—it reveals that members of the Democratic Party base may not be coming home in November if Clinton is the nominee.
A solid 20% of those who said they were supporting Senator Bernie Sanders for president told pollsters they would be voting for Trump in November if Clinton was the nominee. This parallels an earlier New York Times/CBS poll which found:
Twenty-eight percent of Mr. Sanders’s primary voters say they will not support her if she is the nominee, a figure that reflects the continuing anger many Sanders supporters feel toward both Mrs. Clinton and a process they believe is unfair.
The difference in the percentages may be explained by the fact many of those who took the Times/CBS poll did not say they were supporting Trump over Clinton, but that they simply would not give Clinton their vote in a general election.
Some have tried to dismiss this concern, given that many Clinton supporters said they would not support then-Senator Barack Obama at one time. But that’s a problematic comparison. Former Secretary Clinton is deeply unpopular generally—a trend that continues among the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
The central issue to Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity is, not surprisingly, trust. Her record of crass opportunism and dishonesty leaves many voters of all viewpoints uneasy about granting her the power of the presidency.
Given these dynamics, and the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders has consistently done better against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton, the strategy among Clinton supporters appears to be, as one pundit put it, take away Sanders’ halo. That’s a nice way of saying dirty tricks and smear campaigns: a Clinton specialty.
One need not wonder what that would look like, as it has already happened with questionable election tactics by Clinton-supporters in party and government offices, as well as false claims about demographic differences between Clinton and Sanders supporters being wholly racial.
There has even reportedly been a million dollars put behind a cyber-trolling effort by Clinton supporter David Brock, called Barrier Breakers, which seeks to intimidate Sanders supporters on social media. Due a loophole in federal election laws, the Hillary Clinton campaign can directly coordinate with the David Brock-led Correct The Record Super PAC.
Then again, it is not hard to imagine Clintonista dirty tricks and smear campaigns backfiring. Maybe, by the end of the process, a lot more than 20% of Sanders supporters will be #NeverHillary.