Nicholas Harrington

Can you booty call a Bernie voter?

Approx Reading Time-11When Hillary Clinton comes calling in November, will the Bernie voters come over, or will they turn Trump?

 


Last Friday afternoon, I sat in the boardroom of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and participated in a roundtable of erudition.

After the Trump portion of proceedings had run its course, the question of voter participation hit the table. With only 54.9 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot in 2012, who stays home will decide the 2016 election come November 8.

I asked the professor of political behaviouralism how close he thought a Bernie was to a Clinton supporter. Its highly relevant since, if Bernie’s supporters are expected to rally around the Democratic nominee, then presumably there needs to be some compatibility around issues, as well as a degree of tolerance for the candidate herself.

One of the Marxists in the room remarked that Democrats are “booty-called” every election cycle. This brilliant maxim means they are used to prevent the Republican candidate from getting into the Whitehouse, without much regard for the issues they care about.

But can you booty call a Bernie?

Unfortunately, there has been little statistical analysis of the relationship between Bernie voters and Hillary supporters so we’ll have to rely on our common-sense intuition.

What polling does tell us about the Bernie Sanders voter is that they are young, in many cases first-time voters, and self-described Independents. It’s worth flagging again that Sanders has been a lifetime Independent Senator for Vermont. He only picked up Democratic affiliation to run for POTUS.

Polling also reveals that in the main, people vote for Sanders because they are concerned with: income inequality, campaign finance reform, reigning-in Wall Street, de-globalisation and an anti-interventionist foreign policy.

Now, the typical profile for a Clinton supporter is older, long-time Democrats, women, minorities, and the well educated. Their priority issues are social services, welfare programs, pay equity, gay rights and stopping Republicans getting into Office.

Sanders has long-touted that his “revolution” is bringing new voters into the political process. This is good for him, but could also be a double-edged sword. If Sanders does not become the nominee, what is the incentive for his side to come out and vote for Hillary? If Bernies are not conditioned to voting in elections, let alone voting for Democrat, why would they this time?

There are two schools of thought. First there are those who suggest the Sanders voters will come out to vote for Hillary to stop Trump becoming president (the booty call logic). The second group believe there is enough substance in Clinton’s platform to get Bernies up on November 8 and out to vote for her. I’m far more convinced with the first premise than the second.

Indeed, I’d argue that there is as much for a Bernie Bro to like about Trump’s policy orientation, as there is to dislike about Hillary Clinton’s.

Hillary Clinton has been aware of this situation for a long time. It’s why she has been mimicking so much of Sanders’ program for months. Apparently she wants to punish the big banks, is open to a $15 minimum wage, is concerned about criminal justice reform, and wants to take money out of politics. Honestly I don’t think the Sanders voter is quite so naive. In fact, Bernies have been protesting Clinton rallies lately – just the same as they protest Trump rallies. Seriously, that’s not a good thing – and it’s also highly irregular for the supporters of one party’s candidate to protest the other. Despite the nonchalance with which the media gingerly steps around their reporting of these protests, it’s a serious red flag.

Look again at the reasons that the Sanders voter is out supporting their guy – none of these issues sound much like Hillary Clinton – they really don’t.

Income inequality: she’s worth $33 million herself, and $111 million with Bill.

Campaign finance reform: she has relied on Super PAC money and $350,000-a-plate dinners with Hollywood A-listers to get this far.

Reigning in Wall Street: Clinton? Seriously, do I need to say it? The $250,000 speeches she gave regularly to Goldman Sachs.

De-globalisation: Clinton? She supported NAFTA and the TTIP.

Anti-interventionist foreign policy: Clinton voted for the Iraq war, directed Obama to take out Gaddhafi, and wants to set up a no-fly zone in Syria and take out Assad.

At the end of the day, a Bernie is only coming out to vote for Clinton if they are really easily duped, Sanders is the VP, or they really, really hate Trump.

Hating Trump should not be underestimated as a motivation to vote in November, but I don’t think it’s as weighty a point as many Democrats would like to believe.

Let’s play the game with Trump that we just did with Clinton vis a vis the key concerns of Sanders’ voters…

Income inequality: yes, he’s a billionaire, but he claims to want to bring all the good paying jobs back.

Campaign finance reform: Trump? “I’m self-funding my campaign” is a common Donald platitude.

Reigning in Wall Street: Yeah, nah – he’s got nothing on this. In fact, his tax plan is going to put a lot more money in the pockets of the wealthy.

De-globalisation: this is a huge win for Trump. His whole anti-China, anti-Mexico trade deals stance is de-globalisation in another form. Trump wants to take America back to the halcyon days of the 1960s and ’70s, before globalisation created the rust-belt and industrial carcass that is the Appalachian to New England region.

Anti-interventionist foreign policy: again a massive win for the Don. He is the archetype isolationist. He blamed Bush for the Iraq War and says he was against it from the start.

I’m not saying that the Sanders supporters are going to come out and vote for Trump, that is an absurd proposition. But, given that by staying home you might get some of the things you care about, whereas if you vote for Hillary you might get none…what’s a Bernie to do?

 

Related posts

Top
Share via