Bernie Sanders has a nearly impossible deficit to front runner Hillary Clinton, and on Saturday the Vermont Senator offered a controversial explanation as to why --- poor people don't vote.
During a taping of NBC's Meet the Press, Sanders was asked why Clinton had so thoroughly defeated him in states with a high income inequality, a major point of emphasis for Sanders throughout his campaign.
"Well, because poor people don't vote," Sanders told host Chuck Todd (via the Washington Post). "I mean, that's just a fact. That's a sad reality of American society."
Sanders went on to add that "80 percent of poor people did not vote" in the 2014 election. Throughout his campaign, Bernie Sanders has said that his success depends entirely on large turnout --- the higher the vote, the greater the chance that he wins. That has been a great difficulty for Sanders, as his supporters come largely from the younger demographics --- which also happen to be among the least reliable voters.In the Meet the Press interview, Sanders said greater turnout would have a wide-ranging effect on the country, beyond his own victories.
"If we can significantly increase voter turnout so that low-income people and working people and young people participated in the political process, if we got a voter turnout of 75 percent, this country would be radically transformed," he said.
NBC released some parts of the interview on Saturday (it will air in full on Sunday), and they are already causing a stir. Many people criticized Sanders for his note of condescension toward low-income voters.The Washington Post also noted that Sanders' assertion is incorrect --- it is actually Hillary Clinton winning lower-income households.
"It's not clear that larger turnout among poor voters would have actually helped Sanders against Clinton, however.Others took the statement as a sign of the growing desperation on the part of the Sanders campaign. They had often spoken about this week's New York primary in do-or-die terms, and after Hillary Clinton's 15-point win in the Empire State there appears to be little hope ahead for Sanders. He is headed to a string of states that strongly favor Clinton, and trails in the polls for California, where he would need a resounding victory to have any chance of closing Clinton's widening delegate lead. Hillary Clinton also appears to be shifting out of primary mode and into general election mode. At events this week she scarcely mentioned Bernie Sanders, CNN noted, signaling that her campaign is not keen to waste much more energy on him. Instead, she has touted her own record while taking shots at the remaining Republican candidates.
"Sanders has lost Democratic voters with household incomes below $50,000 by 55 percent to 44 percent to Clinton across primaries where network exit polls have been conducted. (He has lost by a wider 21 percentage-point margin among voters with incomes above $100,000, and by 9 points among middle income voters.)"
Bernie Sanders has not taken his foot off the gas, however, maintaining his busy schedule of campaign appearances. He has vowed to stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention this summer, saying he believes every voter in every state should a right to cast their ballots before the race is called.
[Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images]