An effort dubbed #SwitchToBernie is gaining steam as supporters of Bernie Sanders mount a last-minute effort to convince the Democratic Party’s delegates and superdelegates to dump Hillary Clinton and nominate the Vermont senator instead.
The effort takes the form of an online petition and website, with Facebook likes serving as official “signatures.” While it may not be the most formal effort, it has gained the support of more than 14,000 people so far and could represent a headache for the Clinton campaign as the Democratic National Convention begins on Monday.
The petition calls on both delegates and superdelegates to vote for Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton. The DNC’s superdelegates are made up of party leaders who are free to choose their vote, while delegates are bound to the results of their district. But the DNC rules allow for all voting delegates to switch their vote if they so wish, and this happened in 2008 when Hillary Clinton nominated Barack Obama and called for a voice vote, asking her delegates to vote for Obama.
The #SwitchToBernie petition cited what has been the main argument of the lingering group of Sanders supports still holding onto hope that he could win the nomination — that he dominates polling against Donald Trump while Clinton struggles.
“You are unpledged and may change your mind at any time until the actual vote. Your position as a Superdelegate exists to ensure the candidate that has the best chance at winning the general election is in fact the one that ends up nominated by the convention. Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, is that candidate.”
That case had weakened in recent weeks, as Hillary Clinton surged to a lead in polling aggregates as Donald Trump stumbled through a series of controversies. She held a lead as high as 7 points in Pollster’s averages but has seen that slashed in the days after the Republican National Convention came to a close. Trump has found a new wave of support, riding the traditional post-convention bump to a near tie by the time the Democratic National Convention began on Monday.
The Switch to Bernie petition listed a number of other reasons for delegates to change, including the recent DNC email leak that appeared to show party officials actively working against the Sanders campaign and the FBI’s findings that Clinton was “extremely careless” with her use of an unauthorized personal email server during her time as Secretary of State.
The petition went on to cite the Democratic Party’s convention rules, which allowed for what were called faithless electors, saying that “delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not the name of such candidate was placed in nomination.”
“Take a step back from wherever you are and put yourself outside the Democratic party,” the petition asked delegates. “Put yourself in the shoes of the average voter. Hillary’s controversies, corruption and scandals are simply too much. Don’t risk this election. For the sake of this party and more importantly, for the sake of this Country, rethink your position and nominate Bernie Sanders.”
The Switch to Bernie effort is almost assured to fail, just as a last-minute push by Trump opponents to keep him from the nomination failed at the Republican National Convention. Bernie Sanders himself has thrown his support behind Clinton and will be speaking at the convention.
But the effort shows that there remains a rift within the Democratic party, with Clinton still feeling the effects of what was a bruising primary. If the #SwitchToBernie petition can gain more traction, it could leave a permanent mark on her campaign at a time when Republicans appear to be largely coming together around their candidate.
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP Images]