"But when voters are asked about Bernie’s positions, rather than his name, the numbers are brutal. In a Gallup Poll taken last June, fully 50 percent said they would not vote for a socialist. Some 40 percent said they’d never vote for an atheist, which Bernie also basically is. Most of those are probably Republican voters anyway, but many are the swing voters in the seven states that will likely determine this election. (This is not like Obama in 2004: Only 7 percent of Americans said they would not vote for an African American to be president.)"
But I want to point out 2 problems with that statement. One, a poll from June 2016, less than a month after Bernie Sanders announced his presidential bid, is about as reliable now as a poll from 2000. We have come a long way since then, and the demographics that made up that poll, even the non-republicans, are not an accurate representation of field of voters we have now in Feb. 2016. Two, since Bernie's campaign launched, he has had an unprecedented level of young voter support, with Bernie taking 83% of voters 18-29, and 66% of voters 30-44 in New Hampshire's primary. If you asked people a year ago about democratic socialism, they likely wouldn't have had any idea what you were talking about, and more than likely associated socialism with communism, incorrectly. But poll that same group now, and I'll bet you get a different response after learning about what it actually means from Bernie Sanders' campaign.
I think the media is discrediting the impact young voters are going to have on this election as a whole. If we go back eight years ago to the Obama/Clinton race, the world was a very different place. We had FaceBook and Twitter, yes, but they were not used as tools to communicate to voters the way social media is now. Look at any campaign, and you'll see them using FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc to reach young voters. I think it's safe to say more young voters engaged and interested in this election than ever before. And here's the rub for people who have been through this before: young voters don't have years of entrenchment to a political party. Until last year, I was a registered Libertarian. This year, after moving and discovering Bernie Sanders, I re-registered as a Democrat. Young voters, including myself, are more interested in hearing politicians talk about issues rather than hearing arguments about who's the party's more electable candidate.
Now, let's set the stage, Bernie v Trump in the general election. Trump has garnered huge amounts of support despite bucking the trend of campaigning on every front, he even went so far as to criticize George W. Bush while in South Carolina, and it had no affect on the polls. His supporters are going to go with him, no matter what. Similarly, Bernie has amassed a YUGE supporter base of people who are fed up with politics as usual, and who are being inspired to take a more active role in deciding the future of our country. If these two are in the 2016 General Election, we will have the largest voter turnout in history. Hillary supporters will be upset, but I guarantee they will not be jumping ship for the Donald. They'll vote for Bernie, just like more moderate Republicans will begrudgingly vote for Trump out of fear of Bernie's socialist campaign. I'm not sure where independents will go, from what I've heard at the Primaries, some fall to Bernie, some to Trump, depending on where they stand on their social and economic views.
But, if the RNC doesn't nominate Trump, he's already threatened to run as an independent. If the DNC doesn't dominate Bernie, his supporters will plead with him to do the same. And in both cases, you'll have a large chunk of voters from both parties following their candidate, because remember, we're not beholden to a political party, we've picked our candidate and we're sticking with them. Could either party really afford to lose those voters? With the Democrats showing near 50/50 split among it's voters in national polls right now, could they really afford to lose 40-50% of their voters if it was Hillary v Trump v Bernie?
The only way I see the Democrats winning with Hillary as the nominee is if somehow Trump also does not get the nomination. I think the RNC and DNC have kind of backed themselves into a corner here. The voters are speaking, and they're saying that we want candidates who are not your typical politician, we want big changes to fix the economy, to fix campaign finance, to fix inequality, etc. If we see Hillary / Bush dominations, I seriously think we'll see Bernie and Trump running as independents, and the 2016 election will be even crazier than it already is.