Over the past couple of months it has been revealing to watch the Democratic presidential crusade and not because the candidates are very different. No, what has been exposed is a seeming chasm between supporters of the two leading candidates and the vitriol coming out of one candidate’s supporters is getting tiresome.
There is a reason Republicans, no matter how extremist or moderate, nearly always have unequivocal support of the base, and it is because they were fairly united in supporting their party’s candidates because despite their motivation, they all embrace the same goals and agendas; not unlike the Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination. Yes, there is in-fighting among the GOP, particularly as of late, but it is a relatively new phenomenon and generally does not include one segment of the base attacking the other.
After the first Democratic debate last week, Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters claimed their hero handily won the debate and all but sent former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton running for the hills to contemplate dropping out of the race. However, there were a significant number of political analysts and experienced pundits who believed Clinton was the stronger candidate and the response from a fair number of Senator Sanders’ supporters was predictable, and doleful. They claimed that any pundit, reporter, or political commentator who did not agree that Senator Sanders won the debate were paid by the Clinton campaign, Wall Street operatives, or Republican partisans.
Now though, it appears that the argument “has been settled by real pollsters.” Democratic voters believe Clinton was the strongest candidate on the stage and her climbing approval numbers in several national polls back up that claim.
For example, in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday, 45 percent of likely Democratic voters said that Hillary Clinton won the debate with well over twice the 19 percent who said Bernie Sanders prevailed. The WaPo/ABC poll did not limit the question to respondents who watched the debate, but a different CNN poll did limit respondents and the results were nearly identical with 62 percent of registered Democrats who watched all of the debate giving Clinton the victory over Senator Sanders’ 35 percent.
Each of those poll results are relatively close to three other “professional surveys” conducted last week. In one NBC poll, 56 percent of Democrats who watched the debate called Clinton the strongest performer over 33 percent who claimed Senator Sanders won. The numbers were very similar in a Huffington Post/YouGov survey that gave Clinton a 55 percent advantage over Sanders’ 22 percent. At the same time, a Gravis Marketing telephone survey of Democratic voters “gave Hillary Clinton the advantage over Senator Sanders by double at 62 percent to 30 percent.”
Those new poll numbers both back up the assessment of many political analysts and pundits who claimed that Hillary Clinton won the debate, and refutes the impassioned, to say the least, #feelthebern supporters who claimed Senator Sanders destroyed Clinton’s candidacy. However, the #feelthebern folks did have data on their side, but it was mined from the results of “several highly unscientific online polls” that immediately following last week’s debate. As Slate’s Josh Voorhees reminded the feelthebern crowd, , “those informal surveys—which let passionate respondents vote more than once that benefit grassroots campaigns like Bernie’s—don’t tell us nearly as much as the surveys conducted by professional pollsters who take steps to find a representative sample of respondents.”
There is nothing untoward about being sincerely passionate for a particular candidate, but it is curious that any Democrats would embrace unscientific data and online polls as the reason to “passionately” attack other Democrats or the poor souls whose job it is to opine, or report, on American politics.
As Voorhees noted after initially commenting that in his mind Clinton won the debate, like anyone who fails to elevate Sanders to demigod status, even hinting that Hillary Clinton prevailed drives “more than a few Bernie fans to suggest that any reporter who thought otherwise must be on the Clinton payroll;” or a corporate shill, a secret Wall Street operator, a Koch brother employee, a stealth Republican, or just a generally horrible human being. In fact, when this column reported a month ago that Senator Sanders’ attack on President Obama was “misplaced,” it elicited some fairly nasty, and bizarre, claims that this author is paid by a pro-Clinton PAC and that President Obama was despicably mean to the American people and failed to accomplish “their” goals.
What is troubling about some “feelthebern” supporters is that they are very reminiscent of the “emoprogs” who sat out the 2010 midterm elections. The hostility targeting both Hillary Clinton, and those whose job it is to report or comment on the state of American politics, does not bode well for Democrats’ chances in the general election. If ever left-leaning Americans needed to unite, the time is now because one thing is certain: Republicans, racists, and the religious will turn out in force to elect whoever the party chooses as its hero.
One finds it curious that, although there is very little difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, supposed Democrats attack other Democrats and liberal commenters as if they are enemies. Remember, the whole concept of a primary race is to field the candidate with the best chance of winning next November, and according to a rash of new polls and surveys, Clinton is that candidate.
That does not mean Bernie Sanders is irrelevant, or that his supporters are unimportant to putting a Democrat in the White House or winning back control of at least one chamber of Congress. In fact, there is very little not to like about Senator Sanders’ agenda, even though it is not unlike most of what President Barack Obama has called for since before he was elected. But for dog’s sake, perhaps the Bernie Sanders’ supporters can dial back the rancor and mysterious acrimony targeting Hillary Clinton and those who report on the state of American politics and concentrate on electing Democrats, not tearing them down because you “em>feelthebern.”
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.