Christian evangelicals, feminists, college students, white males, socialists, racists, are all part of the reason there has been such a large turnout of voters this Presidential primary season. It may indicate a greater interest in politics by American citizens, but when all is said and done there will likely only be 2 candidates remaining, and other than a protest vote, we can be fairly certain that a large number of people voting in the primaries will be too disillusioned to vote in the general election.
The most likely demographic to be disillusioned are the supporters of Bernie Sanders. Those ‘feeling the Bern’, particularly those normally not showing an interest in politics, will find their usual apathy vindicated should Hillary not only win the nomination but do so with the help of the Democrats hierarchy. If it becomes obvious that the deck is stacked against Bernie thanks to Hillary’s support from Super Delegates, many of the more than 2.5 million people who have supported Sanders to date will either choose to ignore the process or even worse for the Democrats, protest it. One thing they won’t do is vote.
Then there’s the approximately 35% of Republicans, mostly white males, supporting Donald Trump. If Donald Trump is not the nominee, regardless of whether or not an argument can be made for it being for fair or unfair reasons, a large number of those voters are likely to stay home as well. With the way Trump has gone after Cruz, even if he were to give his support to Cruz should the Texas Senator get the nomination, his constant use of the term “Lying Ted” will make it very difficult to convince Trump supporters to give their vote to Cruz. If the Convention is contested or worse for the Republicans, brokered, the only way these people will vote is if Donald Trump decides on a 3rd party run. I’ve repeatedly said that I don’t believe Donald Trump is actually a racist, a Demagogue yes, a racist no, but it is also fairly clear that the majority of white supremacists and anti-Semites are Trump supporters. If we are to accept that this demographic is galvanized by Trump’s atypical demeanor and rhetoric, the only other candidate out there fitting that mode would be Bernie Sanders. Well forget about that. These guys most certainly won’t go for the Jewish Socialist.
Of course all of that also means that a large percentage of Cruz supporters won’t vote for Donald Trump. Many of these same people would likely stay home if another candidate was put forth at the convention unless Cruz was offered the job of Vice President. But even then, the Cruz supporters who are anti-establishment would feel betrayed by their candidate being pushed to the second spot.
Trump getting the nomination for the Republicans also creates a problem, particularly if Clinton gets the nomination for the Democrats. There are many people, people who have shown support for many of the other candidates, who find neither of these candidates to be a viable option. The only way these people would vote is to stop a candidate, in which case their vote would be based on hate for one, rather than support for another. Either way this diminishes the turnout.
Unless by some miracle a candidate presents themselves as someone who can unite the entire country, it is very apparent that the great turnout we see in the primary season is unlikely to repeat itself in November. Since neither of the front runners have been able to even do that within their own party, I think it is fairly safe to say that won’t happen, which means many Americans will look back at this past year as a big waste of time. Not the best thing for Democracy.
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