Hillary Clinton insists that Bernie Sanders didn’t do her any favors during the 2016 presidential contest. But was that actually the case?
Since her 2016 presidential loss to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has stayed out of the public eye. Recently however, in anticipation of her new book ‘What Happened’, Clinton has been “making the rounds”, speaking to anyone that is willing to listen. As you may have guessed, there are a lot of people out there interested in hearing Clinton’s side of the story when it came to the 2016 presidential contest. One of the more interesting points that Clinton makes in her book is the role Bernie Sanders played in her 2016 presidential election loss.
While Clinton does stop short of blaming Sanders for her election loss, she doesn’t however shy away from asserting that Sanders’ lack of support played a factor in her loss to Trump in the general election. So the question, does Clinton have a point in Sanders playing a role in her general election loss? Let’s see if that argument holds any water!
Just the Facts
When you originally hear Hillary Clinton’s allegations of Bernie Sanders playing a factor in her 2016 general election loss to Donald Trump, your gut reaction is that Clinton is still sour over the type of grassroots response that Sanders had gotten during their primary contest. Between how Sanders put Clinton in tough policy situations during the primaries (knocking her on trade and her history with Wall Street lobbyists) to how Sanders’ supporters pushed back against her nomination at the Democratic National Convention, it’s easy to see why Clinton would hold a grudge against Sanders.
The reason it’s so easy to accept this narrative of Clinton just venting in her book about Sanders is that it fits the general idea of how we view Sanders’ base; far-left liberals and college kids. Clinton insists that his base didn’t get behind her because Sanders didn’t support her enough in the general election, but yet, why would that matter? Conventional wisdom would tell you that Sanders’ base would most likely vote Democrat in the general election mostly for two reasons:
- Most people who vote in the Democratic primaries, historically vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee.
Worst case scenario, Sanders’ voters would just not vote on Election Day.
However, based on statistical evidence from the 2016 general election, conventional wisdom may have screwed the pooch here!
Sanders -> Trump voters…
Trump win margin…
— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) August 23, 2017
According to a recent analysis by Brian Schaffner – a well-respected University of Massachusetts Political Scientist – in key general election states (like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania), the number of people that had said they voted for Sanders but were now voting for Trump were greater than Trump’s margin of victory in those states! Further analysis shows that around 12% of all Sanders voters had decided to cross party lines and vote for Trump in the general election!
While this phenomenon is not uncommon – many voters in the 2008 primaries who had voted for Clinton, then voted for John McCain in the general election over Barack Obama – to have this big of a swing in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, which are generally known as Democratic strongholds, is surprising. Also because of these giant voter swings in key Democratic states, it’s hard to deny that Sanders’ voters crossing party lines didn’t effect Clinton’s chances to win in the 2016 general election. Yet to go back to Clinton’s base accusation, that Sanders had not done enough to support her presidential run, is hard to decipher.
As Clinton insists, even in her book, there were too many factors that played a part in her general election loss (Clinton being an unpopular candidate, the Comey investigation giving voters hesitation in supporting her, the Electoral College, ect), so saying Sanders’ lack of support being the main reason for some of his base voting for Trump is hard to say. The truth is that some of Sanders’ voters did actually help Trump win the presidency, but you can’t be 100% certain the reason for that was Bernie Sanders not campaigning for Clinton hard enough. Granted, there’s a bit of truth in Clinton’s statement, but not enough to place that blame on Sanders entirely for some of his base backing Trump. Because of that, this verdict is…
(Photo Credits: Google Images)