Poll: More than one in four Bernie Sanders supporters would vote for Trump over Elizabeth Warren

I am … skeptical, particularly given that this data comes from a teeny tiny sample size of 103 people. But Forbes’s Michael Durkheimer is right that that’s what Emerson’s numbers show. Forced to choose between the right-wing nationalist Trump and a very progressive but not-quite-as-progressive-as-Bernie Democrat like Warren, more than a quarter of Berniebros opt for the former.


Mmmmmmmm, that’s good left-wing purity cultishness.

Warren’s not the only Dem whom the DSA crowd has deemed not quite socialist enough to be worth preferring to POTUS, either.

No. 3: 26% of current Bernie Sanders supporters said that they would rather vote for President Donald Trump over Senator Elizabeth Warren, if that were the eventual 2020 matchup.

While many have assumed that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren appeal to a similar progressive voter, many apparent Bernie supporters would seem to disagree. More than one-in-four of them say they would rather vote for Donald Trump’s second term instead of voting for Elizabeth Warren. In the overall head-to-head between Warren and Trump, voters suggest that they would prefer Trump 52% to Warren 48%.

No. 2: While 100% of Buttigieg’s supporters said they would support Bernie against Trump (if that were the General Election matchup), only 79% of Bernie’s supporters said they would vote for Buttigieg over Trump in a General Election.

This is just another example of the trend where Bernie’s supporters appear to be incredibly loyal to just Bernie. Here, 21% of Bernie’s supporters say that they would rather vote for President Trump than Pete Buttigieg, if given the binary choice. Perhaps many Bernie supporters would legitimately prefer Trump over most other Democrats. Perhaps Trump and Bernie have a similar, singular appeal to a certain subset of voters. While most Democratic primary voters would support Bernie in the general election if he were the nominee, it appears that some significant subset of Bernie’s supporters do not intend to reciprocate.


To my surprise, Bernie fans were slightly more, not less, likely to say they’d support Beto O’Rourke if he were the nominee facing Trump (82/18). That difference is negligible compared to Warren and Buttigieg give the huge margin of error, but Sanders fans in the pundit class spent a lot of time tearing down O’Rourke as a fake progressive over the winter, when he was mulling a run. Now that he’s finally in, Bernie voters seem at least as comfortable with him as nominee as they do with Warren or Buttigieg. What gives?

The secret, I think, is that Beto’s turned out to be less of a threat to their idol than they feared. He’s chugging along at eight percent or so, about the same numbers he was pulling when he first got in. Bernie, meanwhile, is safely winning 20 percent or better. Their anxiety that the Betomania that gripped Texas would leak into the presidential primaries and start siphoning off lefty votes from the socialist candidate was misplaced. Rather, it’s Buttigieg who momentarily seems to pose a threat to Sanders. Not only have his numbers been rising, early data suggests that he’s pulling from the same voter base as Bernie. As in any cult, anyone who threatens the leader of the movement is to be despised as an obstacle to Ultimate Progress. So, for now, 21 percent of Berniebros are willing to spite Mayor Pete by taking Trump instead.

As for Warren, she’s always been cracked up to be the closest thing to a socialist in the race besides Bernie himself. She’s rolling out one new left-wing economic populist idea after another on the trail. Although she hasn’t gained traction in the polls yet, were she to start rising she’d be a mortal threat potentially to Sanders’s chances. Worse, she’s made a point of distinguishing herself from Sanders by emphasizing that she’s *not* a socialist, just a capitalist who wants markets to work for everyone instead of mainly for the rich. That combination of her politely kissing off the DSA wing of the party in the name of electability and also potentially threatening Bernie’s hold on the nomination makes her their top enemy for the moment — even more so than Joe Biden, who loses only 15 percent of Sanders fans to Trump. But check back in a month and see how that looks if, after Biden jumps into the race, he bounces out to a huge lead over Sanders.


If you’re wondering how much of this sentiment is reciprocated, with supporters of more centrist candidates preferring Trump in a head-to-head match-up with Sanders, the answer is: Not much. Of the major contenders, only Biden fans top 10 percent in preferring Trump to Sanders (13.8 percent, exactly). Supporters of every other top-tier candidate who prefer Trump to Bernie are in the single digits. Which seems paradoxical: Shouldn’t centrists be more willing to vote for a Republican than hard leftists? Remember, though, that some of Bernie’s support comes from independents who dislike party politics (like Bernie himself, in fact) and prefer him because of his outsider economic populism. Outsider economic populism also happens to be Trump’s brand, or at least it was circa 2016. Progressives may also prefer Trump to a centrist Democrat for strategic reasons, because they believe that the party won’t embrace socialism unless traditional candidates continue to lose to the GOP. By contrast, more mainstream Democratic voters may prefer Bernie to Trump because they view politics as a partisan team sport, a binary choice in which you’re always better off by definition with your party’s nominee as president than you are with the other party’s guy.

Durkheimer notes that seven percent of Bernie 2016 supporters claim in this poll to have voted for Trump over Clinton. That’s plausible. Various surveys taken in 2017 found that somewhere between six and 12 percent of people who voted Sanders in the Democratic primary that year crossed the aisle for Trump. Which may have made a big difference to the outcome…


…or may not have:

According to the 2016 exit poll, the partisan crossover vote was identical. Eight percent of Democrats voted for Trump over Clinton but eight percent of Republicans voted for Clinton over Trump. As I said, though, not all Bernie voters are card-carrying Democrats; some are independents, and Trump won indies by four points. There were also more self-identified Democrats at the polls in 2016 than there were self-identified Republicans, so Trump won more crossover votes total than Clinton did even though their shares from the opposing party were the same. All of which reinforces what I said this morning about the risk to Joe Biden if he turns the primaries into a “Biden vs. Bernie” choice (or if the primaries become a “Biden vs. Bernie” choice organically). Bernie fans really might be willing to cross the aisle, stay home, or vote third party to punish someone who foils their hero. And Biden has no choice but to do that if he wants to be president.

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David Strom 1:20 PM | July 18, 2024
David Strom 8:00 AM | July 18, 2024