Hillary Clinton Claims Nomination Win, Bernie Sanders Supporters Boo
Last night, with electoral victories in California, New Jersey, and New Mexico, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton crowned herself the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The would-be coronation came a day after the Associated Press claimed that anonymous “party insiders” confirmed Clinton would prevail at a contested convention in Philadelphia.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who was victorious in North Dakota and Montana last night, said in a speech before supporters in California that he would fight on, despite it being increasingly clear that the door has closed on him receiving the party’s nomination outside of a major external event, such as former Secretary Clinton being indicted for her email improprieties.
The question that remains is whether or not Sanders is interested or able to get his supporters to switch allegiances to Hillary Clinton for a general election campaign against Donald Trump. Senator Sanders highlighted his antipathy to Trump during last night’s speech, but the crowd’s negative reaction to Trump was equal to (if not exceeded by) their reaction to the mention of Hillary Clinton’s name. Booing could be heard during the speech.
Many Sanders supporters have told pollsters they would not vote for Hillary Clinton if she was the official nominee, with some even open to voting for Donald Trump. It is unlikely that Clinton can win a general election if Sanders’ supporters stay home, or worse, vote for Trump. Senator Sanders has won roughly 46% of the vote in the Democratic primaries so far.
Hillary Clinton maintains historic unfavorable ratings and is thoroughly not trusted by a majority of Americans. While she remains popular with Democrats, independents (the largest segment of registered voters) dislike her immensely. Senator Sanders fared best in so-called open primaries, where independents could vote in the Democratic primary.
But Clinton has been (seemingly) blessed with having a general election opponent even more disliked than herself. Donald Trump’s negative ratings in polls rival and often exceed her own, and provide an opening for former Secretary Clinton to drive enough support away from Trump through a scorched earth contest to win the election. Though Trump is such an unorthodox candidate it remains to be seen if traditional tactics will work on diminishing his candidacy, they have not so far.
One thing we would know for sure. A Clinton vs. Trump general election contest will be brutal and will only amplify the country’s divisions. No matter who wins, America loses.