Bernie Sanders still tops all polls against Donald Trump, and still outperforms Hillary Clinton on potential November head-to-head matchups, but that argument could soon be taken away from Sanders supporters.
As the Democratic primary season wore on and it became more and more clear that Bernie Sanders would not be able to pass Clinton on pledged delegates, the Vermont senator’s campaign and his supporters began making the argument that he — and not Clinton — was the best and possibly only chance of defeating Donald Trump.
Supporters pointed to polls showing Bernie Sanders holding wide leads over Trump, averaging a double-digit advantage even as Clinton clung to small leads and even fell behind in some polls.
But as Bernie’s campaign fizzled at the end of the primaries — losing by a big margin in New Jersey and a healthy double-digit loss in California (assuming the totals hold up as mail-in ballots are finished being counted) — so too did this argument. Clinton’s strong end to the primary brought many Sanders supporters to her side, with polls showing that more than 60 percent now saying they will vote for Clinton.
She rode this support to a surge in the polls, which combined with a series of missteps from Donald Trump has pushed her average lead in polls above seven percentage points. The surge erased Trump’s nomination bump and has sent him crashing so low in the polls that there is renewed talk of a “Never Trump” movement aiming to take the nomination away from him.
That argument of Bernie Sanders’ poll strength will soon be gone entirely. With Clinton surpassing the mark in pledged plus superdelegates to make her the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, many polling outlets are starting to drop Bernie Sanders out of head-to-head matchups. It has been more than a week now since a poll has shown how Sanders performs against Trump, with at least five polls during that time showing a Clinton vs. Trump matchup.
With that argument gone, there seems to be little to no steam left in the effort to win the nomination for Bernie Sanders. His campaign and supporters had hoped the argument would be enough to win over superdelegates who were more concerned with winning in November than simply picking Hillary Clinton, but there seems to be little doubt now that Clinton can win.
There is even some discussion as to whether it would be worth it for Hillary Clinton to move to the left in an effort to win over the more reluctant Bernie Sanders supporters. Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight noted that Clinton could adopt some of Sanders’ policies on campaign finance reform or his plans to make four-year colleges free, but said it would be more politically expedient for her to move toward the middle, where candidates traditionally go after winning their primary.
“Clinton and Sanders are both progressive Democrats. They don’t differ all that much on the issues. If Clinton were to take up Sanders’s more left-leaning positions, it probably wouldn’t hurt her campaign all that much. It would, however, be riskier than where she currently stands.”
While there is still an outside chance that Sanders could be the nominee should Hillary Clinton be indicted as a result of the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of State, legal experts say this is also a long shot. So supporters hoping to look for new polls on Bernie Sanders will be out of time, and those hoping he can somehow find his way into the Democratic Party’s nomination are likely out of luck.
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