Thursday, May 26, 2016


There's a recurring motif in every story about hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters. Here's Molly Ball at The Atlantic:
A 25-year-old art model named Vanna Mae Caldwell told me, “Here is what they don’t tell you: None of the superdelegates have actually voted yet!” ... If Sanders does not get the nomination, Caldwell will not be able to bring herself to vote for either Clinton or Donald Trump, whom she sees as two sides of the same corporate coin; she’ll vote instead for the Green Party’s candidate, Jill Stein. “I’m Bernie or Bust,” she said proudly.
Here's Ruby Cramer at BuzzFeed:
But for more than 30 minutes, Bill Clinton stayed to argue every point, turning a routine retail stop at Tia Sophia’s, a Mexican restaurant here in Santa Fe, into a one-on-one debate with [Josh] Brody, a recent graduate of New York’s New School, who said he supported Hillary Clinton’s Democratic challenger. “For the next few weeks -- then I’ll be a Stein supporter,” he added of Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
In just about every story I read about Clinton-hating Sanders supporters, the typical plan for the fall is a vote for Jill Stein.

I've been told that Stein can't possibly do what Ralph Nader did in 2000:

But look at the very next paragraph in that Molly Ball story:
Caldwell discovered Sanders last year through Tumblr and YouTube videos. She is an active member of three different Sanders-boosting Facebook groups and livestreams once a week “to motivate people to vote for Bernie.” It has changed their lives, being a part of this movement. Something like that doesn’t just end. Does it?
Yes, Nader benefited from a level of name recognition Stein doesn't have, but that 2000 election took place in a world with no Facebook, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no Reddit. If Berners can discover Bernie online, they can discover Stein there, too. Electoral politics in 2000 was still like shopping for CDs -- you had to go out of your way to find out about something obscure. Politics is a lot more like Spotify now -- everyone has access to every choice.

Also, 2000 was a year of apparent peace and prosperity, when the public didn't seem to be thoroughly fed up with the system; Nader won nearly 3% of the vote in spite of that. 2016 is a year when disgust with the existing order is widespread. Voter disgust is also part of every reporter's narrative; as a result, the press is primed to give Stein a lot of coverage, especially if it seems that the Democratic nominee doesn't embody voter dissatisfaction the way the Republican nominee does.

Data journalists think the Berners will come home to the Democratic Party because that's how it usually works -- supporters of failed Democratic primary candidates generally don't stray in November, even if they're not registered Democrats. Here's FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten:
Most voters who identify as independent consistently vote for one party or the other in presidential elections. In a Gallup poll taken in early April, for instance, 41 percent of independents (who made up 44 percent of all respondents) leaned Democratic, and 36 percent leaned Republican. Just 23 percent of independents had no partisan preference. In the last three presidential elections, the Democratic candidate received the support of no less than 88 percent of self-identified independents who leaned Democratic, according to the American National Elections Studies survey. These are, in effect, Democratic voters with a different name.

... that we’re talking about Clinton’s need to win over Democratic-leaning independents rather than true independents is a hopeful sign for her campaign -- these voters have tended to stick with the Democratic Party.
New York magazine's Ed Kilgore adds:
Yes, Clinton may need to work on this category of voters, but the idea that they are unreachable or likely to defect to Trump doesn't make a whole lot of sense. These aren't left-bent voters who have lurked in hiding for years, waiting for a Democrat free of Wall Street ties or militaristic tendencies, and they're not truly unaffiliated voters who will enter the general election as likely to vote for a Republican as a Democrat. They've been around for a while, and in fact they are being affected by partisan polarization more than the self-identified partisans who have almost always put on the party yoke. So while a majority of these Democratic-leaning independents clearly prefer Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee, they represent a reservoir of votes that are ultimately Hillary Clinton's to lose.
But these voters aren't Democrats-in-everything-but-name; they hate the Democratic Party, which they think is antithetical to their progressivism. As Ball notes, they don't think Hillary is left-leaning at all:
Many Sanders supporters told me they had once liked Clinton, but over the course of the primary they have come to dislike and distrust her. “I didn’t originally have a very strong opinion about her, but now I don’t like her very much,” Brett Miller, a 33-year-old waiter in Anaheim, told me at Sanders’s rally there. He’d come to see her as a bought-and-paid-for pol with no firm principles. A Sanders supporter wearing a “Hillary for Prison 2016” T-shirt got approving whistles thumbs-ups as he strode through the crowd. A video-game developer named Adam Riggs said he wouldn’t vote for Clinton even if Sanders asked him to.
Do I think they'll come around to the Democratic Party, as either registered members or unaffiliated voters who regularly vote Democratic?

Yup -- if Trump wins. It was a hell of a lot harder to argue that the two parties are interchangeable once we had the experience of the Bush presidency. But voters in their mid-twenties were in grade school for most of that. They have to learn the lesson from scratch.


Victor said...

Learn the lesson from scratch?

None of us may be around after thin-skinned, hot-tempered tRUMP's first couple of years!

It's nice that these young folks have found a political 'cause' they really believe in.
But they have to realize the 'because' that goes with that, too!
'Because' if they sit this election out, or vote for Stein, a man who makes W look like an intellectual giant will sit in the Oval Office

Greg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllieG said...

As usual, a Beltway journalist is dying to find a third party to write about. "People I met at rallies and campaign workers" do not equal "significant bloc of voters." Also "What I said I'do in November back in May" does not always equal "what I did on November 8." I'm sure there will be some dead-enders. Stein didn't get shut out in 2012 after all. But she and Gary Johnson (coming soon to a Beltway thumb-sucker near you) will have their glory before Labor Day, not after.

Greg said...

They have to learn the lesson from scratch.

Yeah, too many Millennials seem to be making questionable choices. Let's not forget who raised them (or didn't raise them), however. I think the Bush Jr. years, for a lot of young voters, may be more a vague sense of the carelessness of one isolated guy, rather than proof that Republican rule must be avoided at all costs.

Obama maintained a level of media cool that many of these kids will want to see upheld, one way or another. I'd hoped that Hillary could become the hippest granny ever for them, but so far she's coming off more like prissy (and hypocritical) Mrs. Clinton in front of the class, scolding those impudent bad boys Trump and Sanders. She's definitely gonna need a firebrand VP, Elizabeth Warren or no.

Unknown said...

What is this "back" to the Democratic Party? Hillary has won an overwhelming majority of self-identified Democrats. She won Democrats in every state except New Hampshire and Vermont. She'd have an even larger lead in the primaries had Bernie not benefited from the anti-democratic caucus system, as the primary results in Nebraska and Washington showed. When more people can participate, she wins.

Bernie die-hards are not Democrats now, and they never have been.

Ernest Lamonica said...

Lots of good points there Steve but I really believe the disgust for Trump will overwhelm all other factors mentioned. Hillary 54%. Trump 44%. Etc 1%.

D. Hussein said...

Steve, the people who hate the Democratic party from the left never vote Democratic anyway. They vote for Jill Stein or Deez Nuts or they write in the ghost of Abbie Hoffman or they stay home, but they never vote for the Democrats because we're just a bunch of bought-off neoliberal corporate warmongers who aren't any different than the GOP. The only reason they would have voted Democratic in this election would have been if Sanders got the nod.

In other words, the Democrats could never count on these votes to begin with, so they didn't lose them. And there aren't that many of them in any case. The only reason it seems like there are a lot is because they make so much goddamn noise. They're the mouse that roared.

KenRight said...

Deeds, Not Words
Ian Welsh makes a powerful point today on the degree to which we should pay attention when politicians claim that they have “learned from mistakes” made earlier.

"Hillary Clinton is not credible in having learned from the Iraq fiasco, because she was also for Libya. She didn’t learn the practical lesson (destroying a regime is easy, not having the country become a failed state is hard); nor did she learn the ethical lesson (don’t attack countries who haven’t attacked you.)

Clinton is not credible, because her actions have not changed. She’d be for the next Iraq in a heart-beat and find reasons why it was justified. Her rhetoric against Russia and Putin might as well be from the Cold War and is a great threat to world peace (and survival.)"

Unknown said...

Ian Welsh must be just another woman-hating Bernie Bro.

It's the only explanation.

Feud Turgidson said...

This piece qualifies among the worse of Steve M. Worry Wart 2016 Collection.

'In addition to old white racist Fos addicts and Trump holding such a revolting level of appal of appeal with male white supremacists that we have to look to post WWI Italy and Germany for useful comparators, turns out there are millions of American morons between 17 and 36 who live in a special mental universe only reachable by Bernie fricking Sanders and Jill No-Chance Stein and it's impossible to see most of them out-growing their naive predominantly puerile but also pink pony fantasies within any time period relevant to this year's national elections, because it requies them being violently stomped in the head by Trump raving skinhead jackboots or being dopped-kicked in the balls by their own federal administration led by a narcissistic dickwad'

Steve, this is is America, man - I really dunno WTF you expected.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

My prediction: someone on Hillary's campaign team will do the math in a month or so and realize, "Oh shit, we actually do need to win the support of many of these Democratic-leaning progressive independents we've been condescending to, threatening, and scolding."
And that their "STFU, Trump that's why!" outreach strategy just isn't working like they had hoped for some reason.
Then, finally, it will sink in -- that while hippie-punching and finger-wagging and Get off my lawning sure is damn fun, winning against Trump is a whole better.

petrilli said...

Knock it off, Chai, your harshing their high. They need a new Nader meme for the next 16 years and they will have it by God.

flipyrwhig said...

The Hillary Clinton campaign isn't "condescending, threatening, and scolding" at all, though. I support Hillary Clinton and think Bernie Sanders is a fraud and a crank, but that's just me. This notion that the campaign from on high has treated Bernie Sanders supporters badly is a fiction Bernie Sanders people tell themselves because they have A WHOLE LOT invested in the idea that they're a righteous suffering remnant.

Ten Bears said...

Wow! For a second there I wasn't sure if I were reading comments at Little Green Footballs, or Ace of Spades.

Jesus Hussain Christ, untwist your panties: Hillary will be your next "president". That decision has already been made, and all of this is naught but kombutki theater to leave the rubes feeling as if they were somehow participant.

My conscious is clear.