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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 05-Jun-16


Sunday 05-June-16

Where will Bernie's votes go? The strange, strange US Presidential elections may get stranger still

The US Presidential elections this year have already been a humdinger. Donald Trump has confounded traditional Republicans by coming from the back to snatch the nomination. And the Democrats have had themselves a pretty good race, with socialist Bernie Sanders giving front-runner Hillary Clinton a darned good run for her money. So it looks like, short of any catastrophic revelations, that it will be Trump vs. Clinton.

A sensible conclusion is that Hillary will trounce Donald. Surely, there can't be that number of Americans who would vote for a President Trump. Yet the strangeness of this year's election could lead to not only lots of Republicans voting for Hillary, but also lots of Democrats voting for Donald.

How so?

Support for Donald Trump within the establishment Republican party has been slow, with a number of high-profile figures saying they will not vote for him. I've also got personal friends who always vote Republican but who are terrified at the thought of him becoming president. Many of these Republican traditionalists and thinkers will surely not vote for Trump and may well vote for Hillary as a protest or direct opposition to someone who they feel has hi-jacked their nomination process.

Yet there is a global populist fire raging, that has stirred up elections around the world. From the recently-elected Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to the machinations of Syriza in Greece to the rise of UKIP in the UK, people are voting in their masses against traditional politicians and for outsiders and new parties who 'tell it like it is' and seem to be anti-corruption. In America, Trump has played this card very well, giving voice to many blue-collar workers who have felt abandoned and betrayed by Washington. And on the other side of the fence, Bernie Sanders, a self-confessed socialist, has raised the hopes of many Democrats for a more honest government (while quietly ignoring the cost of many of his proposed reforms, of course).

So where will Bernie's votes go?

I'd say that there are likely quite a few Democrats who like the populist message, and who, perhaps even to their own surprise, would be rather attracted to Donald Trump's non-traditional-Republican rhetoric. To add to this, Hillary has already lost some large segments that should have liked her, such as younger women. And these cynical Democratic Hillary-dislikers might just, like the anti-Trump Republicans, vote for the other side rather than for her. A lot may hinge on what Bernie asks of them when he (finally) concedes.

And don't forget Trump's mastery of persuasion. He wrote 'The Art of the Deal' long ago and has been honing his persuasive skills ever since. He seems to say awful things, but, perhaps not so remarkably, they have worked for him. Expect him to change his tone soon as he woos swing voters and Democrats who are not so taken with Hillary.

So, while Hillary may pick up a good number of anti-Trump Republican electors, Trump may pick up populist-liking and anti-Hillary Democrats. And given Trump's added expertise in manipulative politics, the race could be closer than one might imagine.

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