Sanders, Clinton, and Voter Defection

My social media got lit up with posts about how there were enough people who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016 primaries and who then voted for Donald Trump in the general election to cover the margin separating Clinton from an electoral college win. This, predictably, ignited the usual verbal infighting among my progressive friends who believe Sanders was/is a spawn of Satan, and others who think Clinton had no business running for dog-catcher, much less president. And, as usual, the winner will be the adversaries of both camps.

I will point out something that got rather less attention. At least the Washington Post article noted some grounds for comparison of the current analysis to what went before. The article cites two different survey results of the 2008 election showing Hillary Clinton primary voter rates of defection in the general election to Barack Obama’s opponent, John McCain. Those rates were 25% and 24%. By comparison, the rate of defection of Sanders primary voters to Trump was 10%. That yields some 140% to 150% greater effectiveness on Sanders’ part in preventing defection to other parties than Clinton was able to manage herself in 2008. The notion that Sanders was somehow deficient in his commitment to elect Clinton is belied by that insight, I think.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

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