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Democrats See A Future for Hillary But Want Party to Follow Bernie

Friday, November 18, 2016

Following Hillary Clinton's surprise loss to Donald Trump, most voters think it's time for her to quit the public arena, but her fellow Democrats disagree. Still, Democratic voters now believe their party should go more in the direction of Clinton's primary opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 54% of Likely Democratic Voters think the party should be more like Sanders. Only 26% think the party should stay more like Clinton, although a sizable 20% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings mark a noticeable shift from May when 47% of Democrats felt their party should be more like Clinton and 39% said it should be more like Sanders. 

However, most Democrats (57%) believe Clinton still has a future in public life. Thirty-one percent (31%) of her party’s voters think it’s time for her to retire, while 12% are undecided. Clinton has been in the public eye since the 1980s when she was the first lady of Arkansas and has since served as U.S. first lady, a U.S. senator from New York and secretary of State.

Among all Likely Voters, 55% think it’s time for Clinton to retire, but 34% still see a future for her in public life. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

Forty-six percent (46%) of all voters think the Democratic Party should be more like Sanders, while only 22% say it should be more like Clinton. One-in-three (32%), however, are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on November 15-16, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Most voters think Democrats should work with Trump once he’s in the White House, but Democrats strongly disagree.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 54% of voters not affiliated with either major political party think it is time for Clinton to retire. Both groups tend to think the Democratic Party should be more like Sanders than Clinton, but sizable numbers are undecided on the question.

Sanders drew strong support from young voters, and 59% of those under 40 think the party should be more like him. Older voters are less likely to agree, but roughly 40% of those 40 and over are undecided.

Still, younger voters are much more closely divided over whether Clinton should retire or remain in public life. Most voters 40 and older say she should step aside.

White voters are far more likely than black and other minority voters to say Clinton should retire. Pluralities in all three groups think the Democratic Party should be more like Sanders.

Though men feel more strongly than women do that Clinton should retire, women are more likely to think the Democratic Party should be more like Sanders.

Though he’s served in Congress for decades, Sanders was largely viewed as the outsider candidate in the Democratic primaries and a champion for the more progressive wing of the party. During the primaries, many criticized the Democratic National Committee’s favoritism towards Clinton. One major point of contention is the Democrats' use of superdelegates, individuals selected by the party leadership who can support any candidate at the party's convention regardless of who wins their state's popular vote. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Democratic voters oppose this system.

Despite the growing rift within the party exposed during the primaries, 76% of Democrats expected their party would be unified after its national convention in July. A plurality of Democrats felt Clinton did a good job reaching out to Sanders’ supporters, but other voters were more skeptical.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of all voters think the election results were more a vote against Clinton than a vote for Trump. Thirty-five percent (35%) say they were more a vote for Trump, but 16% are not sure. But with charges and counter-charges flying during the campaign, voters also think Clinton had more to hide than Trump.

Most voters are reassured by the first post-election speeches that both Clinton and Trump made. Democrats are apparently in a less forgiving mood, though.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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To learn more about our methodology, click here.