Who feels The Bern?

By Paul A. Djupe

The presidential nominating contest among Democrats has narrowed to two candidates: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Bernie just had a tough “Big Tuesday” night, losing Michigan which he narrowly carried in 2016, as well as some other M states (Mississippi and Missouri), and Idaho (he won North Dakota and we’re still waiting on Washington to count).

Here at 127, we just released results the other day from our recent survey showing Sanders in the lead on campus, but narrowly. A big question is how supporters of the other candidates who just dropped out might switch — Bernie or Biden? We don’t know for sure, but we have one way to guess since we asked survey respondents how warmly they feel toward Bernie. The campus average is a 53 on the 0-100 scale, which is far below President Weinberg’s 70, and the average among those selecting a Democrat for the nomination is a 60, but this still masks a lot of variation.

The figure below shows how nomination candidate preference is linked to feelings about Bernie. Obviously there’s a lot of love from Bernie supporters, but far less from everyone else, which follows ideological divisions within the party — every candidate’s supporters but Warren’s feels somewhat cool toward Sanders.

Obviously, this puts Warren supporters in an interesting position, somewhere between Sanders and Biden supporters. There’s a fascinating, fairminded piece at Vox that explores the controversies over how some Sanders supporters treat others that’s worth a read. Anyway, that plus Warren’s own comments makes me wonder if there’s a gender gap in views toward Bernie. The figure below suggests not. Only about a quarter have cool/negative feelings toward Bernie among Warren supporters and that doesn’t really differ by gender (though Warren’s support is bigly from women).

It makes a lot of sense to see how the Democratic field has winnowed after South Carolina and Super Tuesday. It split along ideological lines and given their feelings about Bernie, which are tightly linked. Most Democrats are not as liberal as Bernie and have doubts about whether a majority of the American electorate would support him. Warren supporters are right in the middle with policy views that typically align with Bernie’s, but with different views about the Democratic Party and federal institutions and sometimes negative experiences with Bernie supporters. On campus at least, it looks like most Warren voters would side with Bernie.

Stay safe and wash your hands. We’ll be here online for the duration with fresh content planned to help you keep connected with campus.

Paul A. Djupe is a local cyclist who coincidentally has taught social science research methods at Denison for millenia. He started onetwentyseven.blog a few years ago so we could stop guessing and know ourselves better.

[Image credit: Dr. Professor Matt Slaboch.]

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