Guest Column: Bernie supporters must prepare for Clinton as Democratic nominee

Anthony Erhardt Kent State College Democrats

When Senator Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination last May, seemingly all political pundits and pollsters gave the self-avowed Democratic-Socialist and party outsider almost no shot of winning the contest. A little less than a year later, the Vermont Senator has shattered all expectations and managed to run an exciting and somewhat competitive campaign against political stalwart and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Are Sanders’ massive crowds, enthusiastic supporters, and appeal to younger voters enough to win him the contest? To answer bluntly, no. From someone who has supported Bernie Sanders’ campaign from nearly day one it’s hard for me to admit, but my fellow Bernie supporters need to start preparing for the fact that Hillary Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee for president. Secretary Clinton is likely to emerge from the primary victorious for a couple of reasons: the first is that Sanders’ momentum from the first three contests has essentially disappeared. Sanders and Clinton virtually tied in the Iowa Caucus 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent, according to The New York Times. Fast forward the following week to the New Hampshire primary, and Sanders decimated Clinton 60.4 percent to 38.0 percent according to Politico, although both candidates walked away with 15 delegates.

The most crushing blow to the Sanders campaign came in the South Carolina primary on Feb. 27 when Clinton soundly defeated her rival 73.5 percent to 26.0 percent, taking 39 delegated in the process to Sanders’ 14. Bernie’s crushing defeat in South Carolina highlights what I believe has been the downfall of his campaign: his inability to reach minority voters.

Exit Polls from South Carolina show that Sanders lost the African-American vote 14 percent to Clinton’s 86 percent. Five Thirty Eight, a research organization, concluded “If white voters were more supportive of his candidacy, Sanders might have been able to keep the race closer. But they split 54 percent for Clinton to 46 percent for Sanders. The split makes the results among white voters in New Hampshire look more like an outlier compared with South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada. Maybe the Vermont senator had more of a next-door-neighbor advantage in New Hampshire than we initially thought.”

As I am writing this, not all of the results in the Super Tuesday states have been announced, but so far Bernie Sanders has won four contests, far behind how many Secretary Clinton is expected to accumulate. Simply put, Bernie’s path to the nomination is extremely tough, if non-existent. Bernie and his supporters, including myself, have nothing to be ashamed of regarding the campaign we have run. Senator Sanders has brought to light many relevant issues and also energized millions of new voters to be engaged in the political process. However, in the words of John F. Kennedy, “I’m an idealist without illusions,” and at this point, Bernie Sanders being the Democratic nominee for president is nothing more than an illusion.

It’s time for Bernie’s supporters and all Democrats to rally around Hillary Clinton for the general election this November. So much is at stake in this election, including a Supreme Court appointment, and we can’t afford to lose the White House simply because of hard feelings over Bernie’s defeat. If you are a Bernie supporter you have two choices:

1. Swallow your pride and vote for Hillary even if she isn’t the “perfect candidate.”

 2. Don’t vote at all and risk handing the election to a racist, xenophobic, reality television star with a bad toupee.

You decide which is better. 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kent State College Democrats as an organization.