You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

Tuesday marks tough day for some Sanders supporters

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/8/2016 Nicole Gaudiano
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in North Las Vegas on Nov. 6, 2016. © Ronda Churchill, Las Vegas Review-Journal, via AP Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in North Las Vegas on Nov. 6, 2016.

WASHINGTON — For the last month, David Fredrick of San Jose, Calif., had been talking about the importance of rejecting Republican Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric and electing Democrat Hillary Clinton president.

But when it came time to mail in his ballot, it was a “far more emotional experience” than he anticipated, said Fredrick, 34, a stockroom employee at a Crate and Barrel furniture store. Though he said his decision may sound “foolish” and “irrational,” he wrote in the name of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton's Democratic primary rival, because he couldn’t bring himself to vote for the former secretary of State. Fredrick supported the Vermont independent and promoted him aggressively on the online message board Reddit since December 2013, even before Sanders declared his candidacy.

“It was personal appeasement more than anything else,” he said of his decision. “I felt like I could not make that vote (for Clinton). It sat wrong with me.”

For the most ardent Sanders supporters, Tuesday is undoubtedly a tough day.

Some may write in Sanders’ name or choose other candidates, though polls show most will vote for Clinton, even if their heart isn’t in it. An overwhelming majority — 82% — of Sanders Democrats who are likely voters said they will support Clinton, but only 32% said they are “very enthusiastic” about it, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“I can’t say that I’m excited,” said Brittany S. Hale, 28, a corporate attorney and education board candidate from Rahway, N.J. She connected most with Sanders and his ideas for dealing with student debt and taking on special interests in Washington. Clinton, by contrast, is the “old guard” and too “centrist,” she said.

Of her decision to vote for Clinton Tuesday, she said, “I’m essentially doing my part to ensure that a Democrat becomes president. I don’t have a sense of her true personality or something that would make me connect with her.”

Kristin Kania, 34, a fifth-grade teacher from Chippewa Falls, Wis., said Sanders seemed more “reliable and trustworthy” than Clinton or Trump. She’s voting for Clinton, but “not very happily.”

“I feel strongly enough against Trump that I will vote for Clinton, but I do wish that Bernie Sanders was the Democratic candidate,” she said.

Fredrick said, “The phrase that’s thrown around the most is, ‘Hold your nose to the polls.”

Sanders endorsed Clinton in July and has spent the last two months actively campaigning for her, including a coast-to-coast swing in the last week to a dozen states. Part of his mission has been to boost turnout among Millennials — a group that largely supported Sanders’ candidacy and that Clinton needs to win by a substantial margin.

“What this campaign must be about is which candidate has the experience and the vision to work for the middle class and the working class and the families of our country,” Sanders said a rally Friday with Clinton in Raleigh, N.C.  “And in my view, without a shadow of doubt, that candidate is Hillary Clinton, our next president.”

Clinton is winning among Sanders’ Millennial supporters. Among those aged 18-34 who supported the Vermont senator in the primary, 64% said they’d vote for Clinton, while 10% were for Trump, 8% were for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 8% backed Green Party candidate Jill Stein, according to a USA TODAY/Rock The Vote/Ipsos poll conducted Oct. 24-27.

“Since the end of the primary and Sanders endorsement of Clinton, Millennials have really coalesced behind her in a significant way so that she is now enjoying about the same level of support among millennials as Barack Obama did four years ago,” said Chris Jackson, of Ipsos Public Affairs. “The real question is going to be, are they as jazzed to turn out the vote as they were four years ago?”

If Clinton is elected, Sanders supporters say they will hold her accountable on progressive causes, starting with the appointments she makes to her administration. Most important to Sanders and many Berniecrats is implementation of the Democratic platform, which includes a host of Sanders’ priorities, including a higher minimum wage, an expansion of Social Security, making public colleges and universities tuition-free for working families and a breakup of big banks that pose a systemic risk to the economy.

Many of his supporters are ready to help him reach that goal.

After Sanders ended his campaign, Fredrick helped launch Reddit’s “Political Revolution” subreddit (interest area), a spinoff of the original “Sanders For President” subreddit he co-founded in 2013. The group has more than 40,000 subscribers and is focused on supporting progressive candidates and issues that align with Sanders’ vision for a “political revolution.” Campaign finance reform and changes to the electoral process are top concerns, he said.

“I think the majority of (Sanders) supporters are expecting that Hillary is going to win, and Bernie’s mission and our mission is to make sure that the Democratic Party remains true to his platform,” Fredrick said.

Sanders supporters are looking forward to him chairing a committee if Democrats take back the Senate majority. He’s the top-ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee, but he has said he wants to chair the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

In 72 hours, Sanders raised more than $2 million for Senate and congressional candidates last month after House Speaker Paul Ryan warned fellow Republicans that they’d have to deal with Sanders as a Budget Committee chairman if they lost the Senate majority.

“I can just see all the Chairman Bernie T-shirts being sold from the right and the left,” said Charles Lechner, co-founder of the independent “People for Bernie.” “Whatever committee he lands on, I predict there’s going to be a built-in lobby to help him be successful in that arena.”

Follow @ngaudiano on Twitter



image beaconimage beaconimage beacon