Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has been trying to woo Bernie Sanders voters for weeks. Buoyed by the anti-Hillary statements of some in the “Bernie Or Bust” crowd, Trump seemed to have the notion that he could get Sanders’ fans to forget about his racism and xenophobia, and support him because of his stance on things like trade. But it looks like he was wrong.
Polls are now showing Hillary Clinton with an expanding lead over her former reality tv star rival. In a recently published Reuters/Ipsos poll, Clinton leads Trump by 46.6 to 33.1 percent. Another recent poll, conducted by The Washington Post/ABC News, reveals at least part of the reason for Clinton’s widening lead: those Bernie voters who Trump was counting on are coming home to the Democratic party.
Just one month ago, some 20 percent of Sanders voters told pollsters they would back Trump over Clinton in the general election. Now, a few short weeks later, that number is down to eight percent. And, as WaPo reporter Aaron Blake observes, that poll was conducted before Sanders announced that he would support Hillary in November.
What is particularly interesting about these poll results is the speed at which Sanders voters are pivoting to support Clinton. In June 2008, 20 percent of Clinton voters said they would back Republican John McCain over Barack Obama in the general election.
Even a month before the election, and after his disastrous selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain still enjoyed the support of 14 percent of Clinton voters.
Blake shares a possible explanation for the rapid shift from Sanders to Clinton: the Republican Party scares the hell out of Sanders voters. Pew Research asked voters about their level of anger, fear and frustration with their political party, and the other party. Roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats said that they felt frustrated by or angry at the other party. A slightly higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans said that the other party makes them feel afraid.
But when Trump and Sanders voters were separated out, the results were more dramatic.
While 55 percent of Democrats overall said that the GOP makes them feel afraid, over two-thirds of Bernie voters said they feel that way about Republicans. Note that while Trump supporters were very angry at Democrats, the number who said that the Democratic Party scares them was just barely over 50 percent, and was actually one point lower than the opinion expressed by supporters of other GOP candidates.
So once upon a time, Donald Trump, in the fantasy world he seems to inhabit, actually claimed to believe that Bernie voters would abandon the Democratic Party to help elect him president. “RING, RING!” Clue phone. It’s for you, Donald.
Featured image via Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images