There's a lot of frustration among Bernie Sanders supporters regarding their presidential options for the general election. In a recent nationwide survey of 461 former Bernie delegates, fewer than half — 37 percent to be specific — said they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton come November 8.
Although Sanders is currently acting as a surrogate for Clinton, it appears this hasn't been enough to sway many of his ardent supporters. (Indeed, the leak of Clinton's speeches to Wall Street has pushed away many of these people.) About 17 percent of the Bernie delegates said they are undecided.
Beyond that, a large chunk of these voters, about 33 percent, plan to support the Green Party's presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. A big reason: Many feel Sanders was treated unfairly by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
"Some Bernie supporters are going to be voting Green this year because Hillary isn't perceived as progressive enough to achieve some important reforms quickly enough," said 25-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Lbekerki Hunter, who canvassed for Sanders this year but now plans to vote for Stein. "[The] explicit bias on behalf of the DNC suggests that Bernie had practically an impossible battle ahead of him."
If the mixed voting plans among Sanders delegates does reflect a feeling about Democratic voters at large, Hunter concluded, then it could mean that many of them will choose to vote for Stein this year. As a result of this schism among Bernie voters, Clinton could fail to mobilize thousands of Florida's Democrats to the booths.
Hunter says that since there is a lot of "political crossover" among the policies Sanders and Stein promote, the Green Party could win a lot of votes from Democrats and former Democrats (some Sanders supporters have converted to Green entirely since he lost the Democratic nomination).
However, Norman Solomon, an elected Sanders delegate from California and coordinator of the Bernie Delegates Network, tells New Times that the number of Bernie supporters who end up voting for Stein is expected to be low in Florida since it is a swing state.
"Given the threat that Trump represents, I believe the 'protest vote' for Stein will end up being much higher in a state like New York or California or Texas — where the electoral-vote results are certain," he said. "The Stein vote will, and should be, much smaller in states like Florida and Ohio, where the race is close."
That said, Solomon says the overall number of Bernie supporters who plan to vote for Donald Trump and Gary Johnson is "very close to zero."
Hunter says that even though he plans to vote for Stein, a Clinton win wouldn't be the end of the world.
"I'd be okay with a Clinton victory if it meant a Trump loss," he said. "But I don't like that Jill has been so muted right off the bat. There is definitely lopsided representation."
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