While Trump has secured the Republican nomination for the general election, Bernie Sanders continues to challenge Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. The frustration of Clinton supporters is completely understandable, especially since Trump will now amplify his usual below-the-belt attacks toward her, and she’ll have to battle the GOP nominee and Sanders simultaneously.
But despite the vociferous objections by Clinton’s camp, Sanders should still stay in the race for several key reasons. While I thought it was over for Sanders after his disappointing loss in Pennsylvania, he has proven his resilience, and he still has a small chance to win the nomination. As long as it’s not impossible for him to win, he should keep going.
Numbers are critical, so let’s take a look at that first. Clinton is currently leading Sanders with 321 pledged delegates, which means she would need to secure 35 percent of the remaining delegates in order to win the majority. Sanders would need to win 65 percent of the remaining delegates in order to beat Clinton. While he has an incredibly steep hill to climb, he still has a shot. Based on numbers alone I wouldn’t blame a fighter like him for staying in the game.
Sanders is also likely to keep surprising voters who don’t think an underdog like him has a chance. Almost every poll prior to the Indiana primary indicated that Clinton was likely to upset Sanders in the state. However, Sanders won regardless of what the polls predicted.
Recent polls predict that Sanders is likely to lose to Clinton in California, which has a whopping 475 pledged delegates at stake. But he has managed to impressively close the gaps in polling in the past, and he even shocked the most credible pollsters when he won in Michigan. Plus, California’s primary is a month away, and that’s practically a lifetime in the election cycle. Remember that Ted Cruz announced Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential pick and then suspended his campaign in less than a week. Anything could happen between now and June.
Then there’s the touchy subject that Clinton supporters hate anyone mentioning. She’s getting investigated by the FBI for her use of a private email server while she was the Secretary of State. Considering the possible ramifications of the email scandal is critical for anyone who wants to prevent Trump from making his way into office.
The Director of the FBI is Republican James Comey, who was the U.S. Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush. There could be political incentives to take Clinton down with an aggressive investigation. Aside from that sobering fact, Trump will unquestionably use the scandal to attack Clinton now that she is his prime focus.
Spreading the notion that she might get indicted or impeached could scare left-leaning independents. It’s feasible that they might abstain from voting in the general election, or maybe even vote for Trump. I certainly don’t want to risk the possibility of a Trump presidency, and giving voters a different candidate as an alternative would work to prevent the bombastic nightmare from being our next president.
Then there are the polls regarding general election match-ups, and Sanders simply polls better than Clinton against Trump. In fact, nearly every poll done on the issue shows Sanders with a double digit lead over Trump. But the gap closes considerably in a Clinton vs. Trump match-up.
The poll results are mixed for Clinton, with YouGov/Economist showing her with a three-point lead, and a Suffolk/USAToday poll predicting she’d beat Trump by eleven points. Who knows where Clinton will end up with Trump attacking her Wall Street connections and her criminal investigation. Not only is Sanders a viable candidate, he’s not bogged down by gigantic corporate donations for Trump to attack him on.
For me the most important reason for Sanders remaining in the race is his ability to continue voicing the concerns of middle class and working class Americans. Even if he doesn’t win the nomination, the mere fact that he has shifted the country’s discourse to the issue of money in politics is a huge win for those who want to save our democratic process. Representing those who have been negatively impacted by income inequality is also the beauty of Sanders’ campaign. That’s more valuable than anything that could come from this election, including making things easier for Clinton.