The race for the Democratic presidential nomination has been interesting and intense. The competition between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has managed to avoid the sometimes disgraceful antics seen on the Republican side of the race.
The debates between the candidates have largely been substantive and informative for voters as opposed to the Republican debates that seem to always degrade into shouting matches and insults. Hillary Clinton currently has a commanding lead over Bernie Sanders. She has over 2.5 million more votes than Sanders. Clinton also looks poised to have a number of victories in the coming weeks to expand her lead.
The divide within the Democratic Party is very real and growing. Sanders and Clinton both have fervent supporters. Sanders supporters, however, have been making news. Some of his supporters are part of the “Bernie or bust” movement. This means those individuals will not vote for Clinton if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination.
A small number of Sanders supporters have also been lobbing vicious attacks against Clinton. Even Conservative media have picked up on this trend. Some Right Wing outlets are now attempting to encourage those supporters to abandon the Democratic Party and back Sanders without any regard for the larger election. The hope is that those supporters would not vote for Clinton ensuring a Republican win in November.
Some of the people who are intensely behind Bernie Sanders have been talking about the candidate starting a third party run for president. This is partly because Sanders has been an Independent senator for his entire three-decade career in politics. It was a surprise that he decided to run under the Democratic Party banner this cycle since he is an Independent. Another reason is that some Sanders supporters feel that the Democratic Party and the news media have been unfair to the candidate. There are even conspiracy theories floating around in certain circles that rival the conspiracies believed by Right Wing groups and Tea Party supporters.
Some studies recently attempted to look at what would happen if Sanders did decided to start a third-party bid for president. The studies are not terribly scientific. One person decided to post a question to 25 different Facebook groups all formed around supporting Bernie Sanders. The question was whether the people in the groups would still vote for Sanders if he ran as a third-party candidate. Unsurprisingly, a full 100 percent of people in the groups supporting Sanders said that they would vote for him in that case. The sample size and predisposition of the people being questioned really make the results nearly meaningless as opposed to an actual poll.
The issue is that Sanders supporters make up about 45 percent of the Democratic Party. Although some of those individuals are “Bernie or bust” believers, many are not. A third-party candidacy could hurt Clinton a small amount in the general election. That small percentage of voters who abandon the Democratic Party might be enough to allow Donald Trump or Texas Senator Ted Cruz to win the election. Many people who support Sanders understand this and do not want to see any of the Republican candidates as president.
The problem with this theory is that Sanders has repeatedly stated he will not run as an Independent for president. He is fully aware that running as an Independent would almost certainly hand the presidency to the Republican Party. A second problem is that deadlines are approaching to file as an Independent candidate. He would have to scramble just to get on the ballots in many states. He might not even appear on ballots as an Independent if he waits too long. Sanders is not likely to start a third-party run for president this election cycle.