Campus turns eyes toward general election with Clinton
Following the Associated Press’ announcement of Hillary Clinton’s securing of the Democratic nomination for president and the further affirmation of her place as the presumptive nominee after a series of key victories in Tuesday’s primaries, supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) expressed disappointment.
Nicolas Kolenda, president of Students for Sanders, expressed that he believes many younger voters — who have been key supporters of Sanders — are largely upset by the outcome.
“If it could be summed up in one word, I think disappointment is the general consensus,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I might even go as far as saying that a plurality of millennials are feeling a bit down and out: in many states Sanders won an unprecedented proportion of millennials.”
Kolenda also stated his belief that the early call for the nomination Monday likely led to low voter turnout in Tuesday’s election, harming Sanders in key contests like California and New Jersey.
Sanders maintains that he will remain in the race until the July convention despite what now appears to be an impossible path to victory. Sanders’ reasoning for staying in the race stems from the technically unpledged superdelegates, who do not officially cast their votes until the convention. Clinton has a large lead over Sanders in this area, which has helped propel her to victory, and any viable chance that Sanders has at the election stems from a large number of these superdelegates switching their support from Clinton to Sanders.
According to Charles Shipan, University of Michigan political science and public policy professor, though Sanders may still be holding onto his slim chance at the nomination, it is also likely that he hopes to stay in the race long enough to gain leverage in terms of getting issues that are important to him on the party agenda.
“More likely, what he is doing is angling for a platform where he gets a chance to speak at the convention and put forward his ideas where he gets the president or Hillary Clinton to endorse those ideas, or he gets those ideas put onto the Democratic Party platform,” he said. “He realizes that only in acting in this way he has enough leverage to put those ideas forward.”
Because of this, Shipan said Sanders will eventually move to endorse Clinton — the only question that remains is when he will do so. Additionally, Shipan believes the likelihood of a contested Democratic National Convention is incredibly low.
Supporters of Sanders remain divided on whether they will support Clinton in the general election. According to Shipan, the vast majority of Sanders supporters will eventually move to back Clinton with a small fraction choosing not to vote and an even smaller fraction voting for Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Kolenda said while he may not actively campaign for Clinton, he believes it is important to work for a Democratic victory in November.
“In terms of myself, I am not sure if I would campaign for Clinton just yet,” he wrote. “My views on Clinton are lukewarm at best, so it'd be hard to take hours out of the day to do much for that campaign. However, myself and others will be trying my hardest to keep Trump out of office, and if the Students for Hillary or Campus Democrats groups need help to keep Michigan out of Trump's hands, I'd be willing to help out. Many of us aren't necessarily pro-Clinton, but a vast majority of us are incredibly anti-Trump.”
Pressure has been building on Sanders to endorse Clinton in order to unite the Democratic Party. President Barack Obama officially endorsed Clinton through a video posted to her Facebook page Thursday following a meeting with Sanders, in which he negotiated Sanders’ exit from the race.
“Look, I know how hard this job can be. That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it,” Obama said in the video. “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office. She’s got the courage, the compassion and the heart to get the job done.”
According to Shipan, strides from both candidates will have to be taken in order to unite the Democratic Party under Clinton. Sanders, he said, needs to make his support for Clinton clear, while Clinton needs to embrace Sanders’ supporters and express her dedication to the same ideals.
Shipan said students on campus appeared to be split in terms their willingness to support Clinton, with some appearing happy with the success Sanders saw, while others are angered with the lack of a complete victory. However, Shipan said the views of students may have changed since the end of the winter semester when he last interacted with them fully.
“During the semester, the undergrads that I talked to who were in support of Sanders had a mix of views,” he said. “Some of them were pleased that he had done as well as he had done, and he had brought forward a bunch of issues that they thought were important, and even if he didn’t win, they were delighted with the way things had turned out. Others were feeling frustrated with the sense that the Democratic Party closed ranks around Hillary Clinton early and Sanders never really had a chance to win.”
Kolenda said that, looking forward, Students for Sanders hopes to continue to keep students engaged in politics as the member begin to move in different directions.
“The goal is to keep people politically interested and involved,” he wrtoe. “People within Students for Sanders have various beliefs and ideologies. Some may aid Students for Hillary, others the Campus Democrats.”