With the controversial Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz dominating the Republican primary there has been a great deal of speculation about how either of their victories may handicap the Republicans going into the presidential election.
There has been a great deal of rumbling among both the donor class and more moderate members of the party about how they may oversleep on election day, vote third party, or even do the unthinkable and cross the aisle to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Such talk has come from even prominent members of the party including former Republican standard bearer Bob Dole and Senator Lindsey Graham who have both jokingly threatened to sleep in if the nominee is Cruz or Trump, respectively.
This talk of a fractured Republican Party has made Democrats optimistic of their chances in the coming November. This optimism may be rather misplaced though giving the deep fractures brewing within their own ranks.
Largely ignored by the media the prospect of Democrats going into November equally divided is growing more and more likely. Once dismissed as a long shot whose role was merely to bring up issues, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has begun to seriously threaten Clinton.
While Clinton’s national lead in the polls has fluctuated from robust to modest, Sander’s has made the race a competitive one in the early voting states. In Iowa, Clinton’s lead is perhaps within the margin of error, and in New Hampshire, Sander seems more likely to pull off a modest victory than not.
Conventional wisdom argues that Clinton will throw up a firewall as more conservative Democrats in the South and Midwest begin to vote. Even if this strategy proves successful, Clinton may well be in trouble going into November. Even with few endorsements from elected Democrats above the local level, no super pac funds, and a lack of endorsements from liberal interest groups, Sanders has struck a nerve within large stretches of the party.
Particularly troubling for the Clinton camp is the minority of Sanders supporters who are not inclined to shake hands at the end of the primary and back whoever the winner is. A vocal minority of the Sanders faction have taken an “all or nothing” stance.
A number of editorials have run in liberal-friendly publications such as the Huffington Post and Salon arguing that progressives would be better off throwing the 2016 race than backing Clinton.
A “Bernie or Bust” campaign has even been launched with the goal of gathering enough supporters willing to write in Sanders name in the general election to in essence blackmail the Democratic party into accepting him as their nominee.
The movement, unsanctioned by the Sanders campaign, has already attracted over 36,000 supporters. While these numbers are relatively small in the grand scheme of things now, they should still be troubling.
Democrat loyalists would of course hope to avoid repeating the 2000 presidential election during which a prominent liberal alternative to Al Gore perhaps stopped the party from carrying otherwise winnable states like New Hampshire or more importantly Florida.