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.New York magazine's Ed Kilgore adds:
... 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.
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.