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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Has Bernie Damaged His Brand?

Donald Trump said Bernie Sanders’ endorsement this week of Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, is “like Occupy Wall Street endorsing Goldman Sachs.” But he would, wouldn’t he? After all, Trump wants some of Sanders’ voters.

But what do Sanders’ voters think? Their candidate has successfully moved Clinton to the left on the minimum wage issue and has her calling for free tuition to in-state colleges. But Clinton has balked at Sanders’ dismissal of international free trade deals that both he and Trump argue kill U.S. jobs. Still, our recent polling shows that younger voters, key to Sanders’ primary successes and essential to a Clinton win in November, care a lot about the minimum wage and free college tuition but are less worked up about free trade deals than their elders are.

Forty-four percent (44%) of Likely Democratic Voters told Rasmussen Reports late last month that they would vote for Sanders if he was on the ballot this November, but just 24% said they were more likely to vote for Clinton because of Sanders’ endorsement. Our latest weekly White House Watch survey shows Trump with 13% support among Democratic voters, while eight percent (8%) of Democrats like another candidate or are undecided. Whether that translates into support for Trump or a third-party candidate remains to be seen.

Sanders was a political independent until last year when he formally joined the Democratic Party to seek the presidency. Yet he has consistently sided with the Democrats during his 10 years in the U.S. Senate. So his endorsement of the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee is no surprise, despite the harsh criticism he leveled at her and the party’s leadership during the primary season. The only question that remains is whether Sanders will bring most of his disaffected voters along with him or whether a sizable number of them will sit this one out or vote elsewhere.

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Fran Coombs.