Democrats hoping to defeat whichever Republican nominee is expelled forth from the Republican convention have been fretting lately about the burgeoning “Bernie or Bust” phenomenon, best exemplified by Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon‘s recent rant against frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Those anxieties won’t be helped any by a new McClatchy-Marist poll that finds a full 25% of Bernie Sanders‘ supporters vowing not to support Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee:
One out of four Sanders supporters– 25 percent – say they would not back Clinton in a general election if she became the Democratic nominee for president, while just 69 percent say they would support her, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.
By comparison, Clinton supporters are considerably more open to supporting Sanders should he overtake her large lead in delegates and win the nomination. Just 14 percent of Clinton supporters would shun him in the general election, while 79 percent would support him, the poll found.
The poll also has Sanders with a narrow 49-47 lead over Hillary nationally.
So, just how concerned should Democrats be? Will Sanders die-hards really stay home, or even vote for Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or, I don’t know, Ted Nugent?
Well, let’s put it this way: how worried would you be if, say, 28% of your rival’s supporters said they’d vote for the other party’s candidate? What if 35% of your rival’s supporters said they’d vote for the other party’s candidate or stay home?
That’s the situation that then-Senator Barack Obama found himself in during the 2008 presidential election, where May exit polls in Indiana had 50% of Hillary Clinton supporters saying they’d vote McCain or stay home. In March, Gallup had 28% of Clinton supporters voting for McCain instead of Obama. The same poll had 19% of Obama supporters who said they would vote for McCain over Hillary. By the time the primaries were over, CNN had 35% of Clinton supporters nationally saying they wouldn’t support Obama.
That election worked out fine for the Democrats, and they were starting with a much wider gulf, and likely a much less scary opponent. While there may be some Bernie-or-Bust dead-enders at the end of the day, it doesn’t seem likely that the 25% figure will hold.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.