Joe Biden Faces a Big Problem from His Left Flank in New ABC Poll

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Posted: Mar 30, 2020 1:25 PM
Joe Biden Faces a Big Problem from His Left Flank in New ABC Poll

Source: AP Photo/Paul Vernon

We all saw the rumblings that this could happen. It’s the same old story. The Democratic Party establishment has a Bernie Sanders problem. Actually, it’s a Bernie Sanders supporter problem. Of course, the self-described leftist from Vermont said he would back the eventual nominee because beating Trump is a priority. For his supporters, however, that’s not the case. These are revolutionaries. Why settle for a less conservative version of a system they want to demolish under Biden? As they did in 2016, a good chunk of the Sanders coalition with back Trump over Biden should the former VP become the 2020 nominee. And by a good chunk, I mean like 15 percent (via USA Today):

If former Vice President Joe Biden secures the Democratic presidential nomination, 15% of Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters will vote for President Donald Trump's reelection, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll. 

If accurate, that would represent a slightly larger defection than occurred after the bitter battle between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, when 12% of Sanders voters broke for Trump in the general election.

The good news for Biden is that in spring 2016, an ABC News poll found 20% of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Trump over Clinton, and far fewer ended up doing so. And 80% of Sanders' supporters said they would back Biden over Trump, according to the poll. 

The 15% who said they plan to vote for Trump represents just 6% of Democrats and voters who lean Democratic, according to ABC News. Trump won 8% of Democrats in 2016.

Uh, that’s not good news, and 80 percent support from this group is not enough either. You’re going to need that number to be pushed closer to 90 percent. Also, six percent of Democrats defecting, depending on where they live—could still be trouble. In 2016, these Bernie-Trump voters were part of the reason why Trump won (via NBC News):

In 2016, about 216,000 Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin voters backed the Vermont senator in the spring and Trump in the fall, according to an analysis of exit polling — well over twice the president's total margin of victory in those states, which were critical to his electoral vote win in the face of a decisive popular vote loss.

If Sanders ultimately falls short again this time around, Trump's allies hope history repeats itself with the senator's most disaffected supporters — but they won't be leaving that prospect to chance, with a targeted effort underway by groups who support Trump’s re-election to identify and target those voters.

Often, the public-facing pitch comes straight from the top.

"The last time we had a lot of Bernie Sanders supporters," Trump said during a Phoenix television interview last month when asked if he thinks he can win over some of Sanders' supporters if Sanders isn’t the Democratic nominee in November. "I think if they take it away from him like they did the last time, I really believe you're going to have a very riotous time in the Democrat Party."

And there’s another poll that’s not very good for Democrats: the level of enthusiasm among their folks is not good either.

Biden is bound to be the nominee. He's probably going to have a majority of the delegates heading into the convention. The question is will there even be a Democratic Convention with the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.