Can the Democratic party find unified path to the general election?
Bernie Sanders’s protracted campaign may actually help Hillary Clinton’s general election campaign in the long run, say some political analysts and generational experts.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secured enough delegates to be the Democratic candidate for president Tuesday, but competitor Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I) remains in the race leaving the party in flux.
"We just ended – sort of ended – our primary season," President Obama told Democratic donors in a New York City apartment Wednesday, quickly catching his mistake. "I am concerned about us doing the hard nuts-and-bolts work of turning out people to vote, particularly young people, particularly low-income people."
But doesn’t mean the president thinks Senator Sanders should immediately end his campaign. The Vermont senator has "more than earned his right to make his own decision about the course of his campaign," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.
"What happens during primaries is you get a little ouchy," Obama told late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon in a taping of NBC’s "The Tonight Show" Wednesday set to air Thursday night. "The main role I’m going to be playing in this process is to remind the American people that this is a serious job. This is not reality TV."
So while Sanders supporters may feel frustrated that Mrs. Clinton clinched the nomination for president Tuesday they will eventually see the light, say Democrats.
"Clinton people are going to have to be patient, and they’re going to have to let Sanders and his campaign work their way through this. There’s going to be a little bit of back and forth regarding the platform and probably rules," veteran Democratic strategist William Carrick told the Christian Science Monitor’s Linda Feldmann Wednesday. "Millennials are disappointed that he’s not the nominee, but then they begin to sort through it. Instead of taking their bat and ball and going home, I think they’re going to say, 'Better finish the job. No Donald Trump.' "
Sanders’ sustained campaign may even help Clinton’s general election bid in the long run, say some political analysts and generational experts.
"The likely consequences of Millennial support of a Bernie candidacy is that a) you may have mobilized a generation more than they would have otherwise, and b) you may have just pulled Hillary to the left," Jan Leighley, a professor of political behavior at American University in Washington, told the Monitor’s Jessica Mendoza earlier this week. "The reality is youth are very small percentage of the vote. That’s true even in [presidential] election years... [and] even under the most generous assumptions."
Although the Millennial generation has surpassed Baby Boomers as the country’s largest living generation, and matched the Boomers’ share of the electorate, only 46 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 are likely to vote.
But Sanders has rallied young voters to show up at the primary polls, suggesting they will turn out again during the general election.
And a Clinton endorsement by President Obama – who has high favorability ratings at the moment – may effectively speed up this party solidification process.
Sanders is set to meet with President Obama at 11:15 am Thursday, but the White House has been vague on the meeting’s purpose.
"I think the president will also convey his appreciation for the kind of agenda that Senator Sanders has run on," Earnest told reporters Wednesday. "And I think they’ll have a conversation in the Oval Office tomorrow about how Senator Sanders can build on the progress that he has made in bringing attention to those issues and ensuring that the next president of the United States shares those priorities."
As long as the next president is not a Republican reality TV star, the White House implies.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.