A year ago pundits thought Hillary Clinton was unstoppable for the 2016 presidential election. With her experience in office, millions of dollars in campaign funding, and moderately progressive policies, Clinton had been the favored democratic choice. However, in the past several months, Senator Bernie Sanders threatens that lead. His honesty, years of government service, and all-the-way-to-the-left policies certainly are appealing to many. However, Sanders’ supporters are worried he is too radical and inexperienced for D.C., and can’t take on a republican competitor. His main problem is many voters who like him aren’t confident. Can Sanders still be a promising competitor when many Sanders supporters feel and fear the Bern?
Lawyer Michael Edelson, a democrat in his early 70s who works near Wall Street in Manhattan, thinks Sanders is a “one-show pony.” Edelson supports the majority of Sanders’ policies, but is worried Sanders’ lack of experience with foreign affairs could be troubling as commander-in-chief. But, “he’s a 74-year-old Jewish guy from Brooklyn living in Vermont who professes to be a socialist,” said Edelson. “That’s why I like him.”
Twenty-two year-old Emerson student majoring in writing, literature, and publishing, Helen Schultz (democrat) is excited for Sanders as president. “I think his ideas echo what the average American wants more than any other candidate,” said Schultz. “His emphasis on reproductive rights, access to education, and racial equality are all things that are on our collective consciousness.” Schultz is “super torn” on whether to vote for Clinton or Sanders in the primary election. “I think I might have to make up my mind when I get my ballot,” said Schultz. “I think I’ll see how Super Tuesday goes, and figure it out from there.”
Some think Sanders has bi-partisan appeal; including Sanders himself from a speech at Liberty University in September, where he said he received 25 percent of the Republican vote.
But Schultz doesn’t agree. She says Sanders is polarizing due to being “the definition of liberal.” Schultz is nervous that a Sanders democratic nomination win could mean a general election loss, due to his “divisive” nature. “I’d rather have Hillary who, while problematic, does have similar stances on many issues than a Republican who would completely go against what I believe.”
Schultz believes Sanders being anti-establishment hurts him in appealing to middle America. By leaning so leftward and radical in his politics, Schultz is worried Sanders’ progressive persona would lend to a stagnant congress. And Sanders’ liberal policies are not useful if they are not passed. Contrastingly, Schultz sees Clinton as a more neutral democratic candidate option, who could viably appeal to both parties, and get more accomplished during a presidential term.
While Schultz and Edelson are optimistic about Sanders (with slight hesitation), other democrat voters are unsure they’ll vote for Sanders at all in the democratic primary election.
“Bernie’s cool, but Hillary’s probably where I’m gonna go,” said Travis Bankey, a 30-year-old democrat in fashion sales. His coworker, 38-year-old democrat Crystal Combs, also thinks she will vote for Clinton. “I think it’s more of a comfort factor,” said Combs. “Knowing that she’s already been in office, in some capacity,” gives Combs assurance to vote for Clinton.
“I think he’s got a lot of appeal socially, especially towards the younger demographic,” said 24-year-old small-business Financer Theodore Casey on Bernie Sanders. “I’m not a huge fan of his fiscal policy, but I [lean] more toward [his] core values than anything.”
Tina Pitt, a 60-year-old democrat administrator for Year Up, thinks Sanders would be interesting as president, because he would be the first Jewish citizen to hold the title. But Pitt is unconvinced Sanders will perform well. “He’s at an age where I don’t know if he’s going to be able to support the demands of a presidency,” said Pitt. “I would rather go for Hillary Clinton, who might be getting close to his age. She appears to have more strength and stamina, and able to perform the duties of the job.”
And Pitt isn’t the only one who is switching over to team Clinton. As the primary elections have begun, it’s evident that Sanders didn’t have as much of a momentum as the mainstream showed. Clinton leads the count with 91 delegates, while Sanders has 65. In terms of super delegates, Clinton has 453 and Sanders 20. The democratic presidential nominee needs 2,383 delegates to get that coveted nomination. While Sanders has seemingly fallen behind in receiving delegates, recent polls show that Sanders is the democrats’ best bet for beating republican candidates.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who worked under former President Bill Clinton, has come out in support of Bernie Sanders. “I endorse Bernie Sanders for president of the United States,” said Reich on his twitter account. “He’s leading a movement to reclaim America for the many, not the few.”
Reich would support Clinton, though, if she wins the democratic nomination for the general election. But he wants a Sanders presidency.
Thirty-five year old democrat Accountant Alex Choto thinks Sanders is an ideal candidate due to his personal beliefs: free healthcare and free education. But, Choto understands that this is a capitalist country, and those benefits aren’t easily given to citizens for free.
Choto says people get scared when socialism and communism are brought onto the political table. “I think that’s where the problem is,” said Choto. “It’s all good what he’s trying to push for, but I don’t think it’s practical.”
Only time will tell how this election pans out. But tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and that means 12 states and one U.S. territory will have a hand in deciding Clinton and Sander’s futures. Will voters’ fear of Sander’s electability sway them to vote for Clinton instead? Will young voters make a huge turnout for Super Tuesday, pushing Sanders ahead? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.