by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“Bernie or bust” is their rallying cry, and many supporters of self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., say that they will vote for President Trump if their candidate is denied the Democratic nomination a second time.
After the 2016 election, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study found about 12% of those who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primaries voted for Trump in the general election. There are early signs that Sanders fervor is so strong that this could double in 2020, a development that could hand the White House to Trump for a second term.
An Emerson College poll this month showed 26% of those who support Sanders in the Democratic primaries and caucuses would support Trump over Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., despite their overlapping policy positions.
The Sanders-to-Trump inclination stems in part from the belief that the Democratic National Committee “cheated” Sanders in the bitter 2016 primary with the superdelegate system and Democratic staff bias in favor of eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. Concern over establishment control of the nomination process and other aspects of the campaign season persist among Sanders loyalists.
“If they cheat again, I have told people I will vote for Trump,” Pennsylvania resident and Sanders supporter Keith Ward, 58, told the Washington Examiner. “Not because I like him, but because if this country is going down a slippery slope, they have no one to blame but themselves … [no] matter how much damage I believe Trump is doing.”