The “Bernie or Bust” contingent is growing as the divide between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders widens, and the disenchanted supporters of the Vermont Senator could pose a major challenge for Clinton come November.
These voters have vowed not to support Hillary Clinton under any circumstances, preferring instead to support third-party candidates or, in some cases, even casting their ballots for Donald Trump if Sanders is not the Democratic nominee.
The Los Angeles Times recently looked at the growing “Bernie or Bust” movement, finding a number of Bernie’s supporters vowing to abandon the Democratic Party in November.
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been on the razor’s edge in the Democratic race since his giant losses on Super Tuesday. His supporters gained hope through a long string of victories over the last month and a half, with hopes that last week’s New York primary would give him an upset victory and keep the momentum headed toward California, a big state with big potential to turn the race entirely.
Instead, Bernie Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton by more than 15 points. His path to the nomination is now almost impossibly narrow, and looks to get even more difficult after next Tuesday. Hillary Clinton now leads in the slate of states that will vote, with double-digit leads in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
As Sanders continues to lose and the reality of a Hillary Clinton nomination becoming clearer, many of his supporters are preferring to fold up and find a new candidate rather than back Clinton. A recent McClatchy-Marist poll found that one-in-four Sanders supporters don’t plan to vote for Hillary, and some of them are very vocal about it.
On Twitter, the hashtag #BernieOrBust has been gaining momentum, the Los Angeles Times noted. There is also an online pledge for supporters who vow not to cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton if she becomes the nominee.
“I don’t know if I can vote for her,” said 29-year-old Dennis Brandau. “I don’t even want to hear her talk.”
For his part, Bernie Sanders seems to be doing his best not to fuel the movement. His rhetoric has dulled a bit since his loss in New York, and he has continually said he doesn’t want to play spoiler like Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate accused of siphoning support away from Al Gore in 2000, leading to a win for George W. Bush.
Many believe that the Sanders supporters — or at least a large enough chunk of them — will move over to Hillary sometime after the primary season is over and there is time to heal most of the wounds. That is what happened in 2008, when Clinton endorsed Barack Obama after a hard-fought primary.
But New York Times writer Albert R. Hunt noted that this year is much different, with more stark differences between the Democratic candidates.
He noted that Clinton will definitely need Sanders supporters in November.
“Yet if she is the Democratic nominee, she’ll need Mr. Sanders’s followers in the autumn and would be taking a risk to rely on Mr. Trump’s unpopularity to carry her to the White House.
“In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, voters viewed Mr. Trump unfavorably, 65 percent to 24 percent, the highest negatives for a national political figure that the pollster Peter Hart said he had ever seen. But if it weren’t for Mr. Trump, the story would be about Mrs. Clinton’s negatives. In the same survey she was viewed unfavorably, 56 percent to 32 percent. She does poorly among some of Mr. Sanders’s core supporters, such as young people and independents.”
Hillary Clinton’s race for the Democratic nomination is winding down, with Tuesday looming as a potential death knell to Sanders’ campaign. But the growing “Bernie or Bust” movement means she will likely have to fight well into the summer to win over his much-needed supporters.
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