“She must become our next president,” Sanders said, endorsing Hillary Clinton and making way for the most progressive platform in the Democratic party’s history.
But Sanders joining Clinton could be discouraging news to many of his young supporters, which may be unwilling to swing their loyalties to Clinton’s campaign.
In 2008, when Clinton left the presidential race, her young supporters coalesced behind Barack Obama, who won the majority of the overall vote due to a strong support from young voters. Clinton hopes this election won’t be any different. In a discussion, she said that “Senator Sanders young supporters will look at the choice. The choice will be pretty stark if from either of the two leading Republican candidates become the nominee, and I’m confident that we’ll all join together.”
The New Revolution
So far, Sanders has initiated an effective politics of conviction for a large section of the American youth. The 74-year old Vermont Senator has been the most popular candidate of the five surveyed in a poll amongst the millennials which are close to becoming the nation’s largest generation in the US Electorate.
Sanders’ genuine endeavour to address outdated and corrupted policies swayed many young supporters. The Harvard IOP Spring 2016 Poll showed that even though millennials remain deeply rooted to causes like education, women’s equality and the economy, they doubted that politics could tackle nation’s challenges. But through his progressive campaigns, Sanders inspired a large number of young voters and got them into the process. He focused on core issues such as rising income inequality, increasing student debt, the outsized influence of money, growing environmental concerns, the disastrous effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the post-2008 recession.
His campaign issues aligned with the real economic challenges faced by millennials post-2008, a year which saw the highest number of jobs lost – as many as 2.6 million – after 1945. Many young voters either grew up during the recession or saw their close ones suffer due to unemployment and rising debts. The ‘political revolution’ promoted by Sanders added an ethical tone to the 2016 US Presidential elections and created a solid ground for factual debates. In an interview, Sanders called for free education funded by high taxes on Wall Street’s speculation.
“When Wall Street’s illegal behaviour destroyed our economy, the middle class bailed them out. It is now time for them to help the middle class.”
Senator Bernie Sanders
Based on both surveys and common sense, it is highly unlikely that Sanders’ young supporters will swing towards Trump. Campaigns led by Trump and Sanders have more differences than similarities (they both oppose the TPP and favour higher taxes on the wealthy). Even though Trump and Sanders want to transform America, their recommended reforms are mostly divergent. On many topics like individual rights, domestic issues, economic issues, defence and international issues, Trump has emerged to be far more conservative than both Sanders and Clinton.
The New York billionaire currently faces severe criticisms from his own party members, who plan to block him from getting the 1,237 delegates he needs in order to be declared the official nominee. The past speeches by Trump have been a part of many heated controversies, ranging from racial discrimination to alleged marital rape.
Based on a Washington Post/ABC News poll in 2016, as many as 86% of Democratic-leaning voters who supported Sanders viewed Trump unfavourably. John Della Volpe, director of polling at Institute of Politics at Harvard University said, “Clinton seems to be doing a better job coalescing young Democrats, while Donald Trump has had trouble coalescing young people on the right.”
However, it may be imprecise to say that Trump’s controversies will be the only factor that could unite Sanders’s young voters to Clinton’s campaign. In the history of the NBC/WSJ poll, Trump and Clinton have been the two most unpopular presidential nominees. Despite the high engagement of the youth in politics, only 23% of the young voters are satisfied with their choices for president.
After Sanders’ endorsement, his young followers may try to look for parallels in the ideologies of Clinton and Sanders. If they can’t find some, then they may lose faith in any future political and social revolutions like the one started by Sanders.