Bernie Sanders Independent: Will Candidate Run Third Party Campaign If He’s Ousted By Clinton?

Would Bernie Sanders run as an independent third party candidate if Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic primaries? The question of running as an Independent has usually been asked of Donald Trump if he doesn’t get the Republican nod despite a win. But how about the Democrats?

According to the Washington Post, Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, made a statement to Steve Kornacki on MSNBC that might raise the question: How about Bernie Sanders, Independent candidate?

Kornacki wasn’t asking that question.

The interview focused on the number of delegates Sanders needed to catch Hillary Clinton, and the number left in the states that haven’t held their primaries yet. There are still 1,400 delegates left up for grabs. Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey have 885 of those. But Sanders doesn’t need to simply win those states. Since the Democrats award their delegates proportionally, Sanders needs to win big, by double digits. If he was still behind by 239 delegates going into California, Sanders would have to get 75 percent of the vote just to pull even with Clinton, according to the Washington Post.

Bernie Sanders Independent
An Independent Bernie Sanders might do better, says Weaver.

“At the end of the day the Democrats will have to decide who they want to elect in terms of who will be best in November. Bernie Sanders is a much more electable candidate in November,” Weaver said. “Very important for Democrats… If the polls continue to show Bernie Sanders is a much stronger candidate in the general election, and that’s for a few reasons. He brings out a lot of young people to the process, he’s extremely popular with independent voters… If you can’t create a coalition with independent voters, you can’t win the White House.”

But is Bernie Sanders the Independent really more “electable?”

Sanders the Democrat lost New York, a state that he fully expected to win. He has had trouble courting the African-American vote, one of the reasons he’s getting crushed in Maryland. And according to the Washington Post piece, Weaver’s claim that what’s happening in the caucus states brings the number down substantially is wrong. Polls show Clinton leading in that area too, by 2.4 million votes in caucus states.

Can Bernie Sanders’s appeal as an Independent continue growing elsewhere, though? Young voters and independents like Sanders better than Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. They like Clinton better than they do the Republicans too, however.

Bernie Sanders Independent
The popularity lines between the Democrats seem to be drawn by voters’ ages, the younger ones favoring Sanders, according to the Los Angeles Times. The publication cites an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of likely New York Democratic voters. Among voters younger than 30-years-old, Sanders won with 53 points.

Twenty-five-year-old Queens College student Angelica Collado is a typical young voter who might support Bernie Sanders as an Independent. She attended a Sanders rally in Brooklyn during the New York primary. Sanders’s push for free tuition for state universities and colleges appealed to her, as it does to many college students nationwide.

“I really like his point of view,” Collado said. “And I think he’ll continue what Obama has really started.”

According to the Decker article, Sanders’s liberal ideology grabs younger voters. Older voters seem to prefer Clinton’s political experience.

Director of the Marist College of Public Opinion Lee Miringoff boiled the poll results down.

“The age factor seems to trump everything,” Miringoff said. “Age is a big deal in all of this.”

Younger voters looking for jobs in a tight market, and burdened with college debt, really like what Bernie Sanders the Democrat has to say about college tuition. The question is, are there enough of them to sweep Bernie Sanders the Independent into the White House in November?

[Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP]