Over the past few months, the Democratic primary race for the 2016 presidential election has been a fierce battle for the hearts and minds of voters. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who ran for the nomination in the Democratic Party, offered the working class voters a bold alternative to the mainstream Democratic Party. But in the end, Hillary Clinton was just a few percentage points ahead of him in the popular vote in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Now that Sanders has conceded and Clinton has officially been named the nominee, we can examine exactly who is backing her for the big job and what this means for the future of the Democratic Party.
The Independents Are Mainly Backing Clinton
Although Sanders won the primaries, the popular vote was actually very close between the two Democratic candidates. Clinton received 4,864,472 votes and Sanders received 4,845,816 votes, a difference of 128,756 votes. However, in the case of the electoral college, Clinton won the popular vote by 863 votes, giving her a total of 2,307 electoral college votes and Sanders’ 2,264 electoral college votes. This means that while Sanders won the primaries, he did not win the election. What’s more, only 22% of the voters in the 2016 Democratic primary were satisfied with the choice of nominee.
Despite Sanders’ attempt to rally the Democratic base and bring new voters into the party, Clinton was able to maintain strong support among minority voters. The Pew Center found that 44% of Democratic primary voters were more attracted to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders while 42% were more interested in supporting Hillary Clinton. So, in essence, a majority of the Democratic base still supports Clinton and is unlikely to support the candidacy of a socialist like Sanders in the future. This would explain why, even now, as Sanders bows out of the race and concedes defeat, Clinton’s favorability rating among Democrats is at an all-time high and why she is seen as the likely nominee for the party in the next election.
Why Did Bernie Sanders Lose?
Although Sanders won the Democratic nomination, the primary race was incredibly close. The Vermont senator came in second place in the Iowa Caucus with 24.9% of the vote, behind Hillary Clinton’s 34.8%. Then, in the New Hampshire Primary, Sanders finished a close second with 24.7% of the vote. But in the Nevada Caucus, Clinton scored a big win with 33.3% of the vote, followed by Sanders with 29.8%.
Clinton’s superior campaign strategy, use of high-profile individuals as surrogates and the vast fundraising network she established were all critical to her ultimate victory. But perhaps, the most significant factor was her campaign’s ability to reach out to and mobilize minority voters. According to exit polls, Clinton outperformed Sanders in white and Asian American voters while he did better with African American voters. Additionally, her strongest base of support came from union households and young people.
Sanders’ Impact On The Democratic Party
It’s a testament to Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign that he was able to draw such a large crowd and generate so much interest in politics. During his campaign, Sanders addressed a number of critical issues related to the working class, including wages, job security, and the cost of living. And in many ways, his bid for the presidency was a success. As a self-described democratic socialist, Sanders was able to bring a new perspective to the forefront of American politics. He highlighted inequality and the need to address the underlying causes of mass poverty and unemployment rather than simply trying to deal with the symptoms.
This is a stark contrast to the Democratic Party, which generally avoids taking a stance on major issues related to class. The bulk of the Democratic platform is centered on social issues, particularly gun control, a cause that has driven the party for years. Although Sanders did not directly campaign on the issue of gun control during the primary race, he spoke out against the NRA and supported efforts to regulate and restrict access to guns. And after the primaries, his Senate colleagues worked to pass a law that would have made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase guns.
Where Does This Leave The Democratic Party?
By securing the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton has proven herself to be the establishment’s pick for the 2016 presidential election. As the likely nominee, she will now have to navigate a general election campaign against a Republican incumbent and his record of having presided over the recent economic recovery. This, of course, does not mean that she will be an easy opponent; Trump is still likely to pose a threat.
The Democratic Party will also have to figure out a way to effectively campaign in the general election while trying to appeal to as many voters as possible. While Sanders ran an unorthodox campaign, he was still able to connect with a broad cross-section of the American public. As a result, his supporters are still looking for ways to get involved in politics and make their voices heard in the 2018 midterm elections.
But ultimately, it’s not Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are responsible for the Democratic Party’s continued success in the post-Sanders era. Instead, it’s the millions of independents who did not vote in the 2016 presidential election but could be crucial to the party’s survival in the years to come. As Clinton noted in her victory speech, “This is the dawn of a new day for America,” adding that “Now we must bring our party together and prepare to lead this country… We’re only going to be as strong as we are united.”
While Sanders will continue to have an impact on the Democratic Party, his role shrinks in comparison to Clinton’s. The former Secretary of State will now hold the key to the Oval Office and the future of the nation. This, of course, does not mean that Sanders and his supporters are unimportant; rather, it just shows that they are no longer the center of the universe when it comes to American politics.