Would Bernie Sanders have made Donald Trump “feel the Bern” had he represented the Democratic Party in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections?
Numerous polls conducted during the primaries had suggested Sanders would convincingly trounce Trump in the elections while predicting a smaller winning margin for eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. A newly-released pre-election poll now suggests the very same thing, but what makes it interesting is that it was conducted only a few days before the election.
The Huffington Post cited a private poll exclusively provided to the publication, which surveyed over 1,600 registered voters across America. Gravis Marketing carried out the poll just two days before the elections, and based on its findings, Sanders would have come away with 56 percent of the vote, with Trump taking the remaining 44 percent. That would have marked the biggest winning margin since Republican Ronald Reagan defeated Democrat Walter Mondale in the 1984 elections.
In an interesting note, the Gravis survey showed that Bernie Sanders led Donald Trump 55 percent to 45 percent in terms of independent voter share. Conversely, Hillary Clinton had only 42 percent of the independent vote on actual exit polls against Trump’s figure of 48 percent. Independent voters made up close to a third of this year’s general election voters, the Huffington Post added.
The Huffington Post did stress that the newly-released pre-election poll had its share of limitations. One such limitation was how most polls turned out to be terribly off the mark in predicting a Clinton victory. Before FBI Director James Comey made the bombshell announcement that his agency would be resuming its probe on Clinton’s email server, Clinton had a very comfortable lead over Trump, leading by 13 percentage points in one poll. That’s an even bigger margin than Bernie Sanders’ lead over Donald Trump in the Gravis poll.
A second perceived limitation was that the Gravis poll didn’t take into account one key variable – the strong possibility that Sanders’ Democratic Socialist platform would have been raked over coals by Republicans, thus potentially hurting his chances of victory. The Huffington Post added that the poll also neglected to consider the chances former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would have run for the presidency if Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were the two major party candidates.
It’s also worth noting that the Gravis poll was financed and commissioned by Alan Grayson, an outgoing Florida Congressman and a close ally of Sanders. In an email to the Huffington Post, Grayson criticized the Democratic party for favoring “business-friendly, moderate” candidates like Clinton.
“As we contemplate the dark days ahead, and then as we suffer through them, we Democrats should remember that it could have been entirely different. All we had to do was to elect a Progressive as President ― just as a large majority of Americans really wanted,”
In its own “what-if” report on a hypothetical Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump election, The Independent cited the results of previous polls conducted in May, most of which showed Sanders handily beating Trump, and Clinton winning by a much smaller margin. One NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll held on May 15 had Sanders ahead by 15 percentage points, and Clinton was eking out a three-point advantage over Trump. Less than two weeks before that, CBS News had Sanders and Clinton beating Trump by 13 and six percentage points respectively. A third poll, this time from Fox News and also on May 3, was far more interesting, as it had Sanders winning by just four points, but Clinton losing by three.
Considering the hot-off-the-presses Gravis poll and the earlier polls cited by The Independent, the numbers do point to Bernie Sanders beating Donald Trump, assuming Sanders got the Democratic nod. But beyond statistics, The Independent also observed a clear lack of “passion” at Hillary Clinton rallies, a stark contrast to what was observed at Barack Obama’s rallies eight years prior, or those of Clinton’s Democratic rivals.
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