We're hesitant to make the kinds of sweeping issue statements suggesting that "ALL X VOTERS SUPPORT Y," and the like, but we think our roundtable discussion with supporters from the two main candidates in the Democratic Party's 2016 Presidential primary offers a few fascinating takeaways.
Here's a quick run through of what seems to be driving the conversation for our guests, and the thousands of supporters in the campaigns of both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Ardent Supporters Don't Trust The Polls
If you've spent any time at all in our comment section or social media feeds during our ongoing coverage of the 2016 General Election, you've no doubt noticed the legions of Sanders supporters clamoring for greater coverage of the insurgent Vermont Senator's Presidential campaign. It was surprising then to hear a Clinton campaign volunteer flatly denying the legitimacy of a series of recent primary state polls showing a marked surge in the Sanders campaign.
Schwartz. who works in the Clinton Campaign Headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, told host Tom Ashbrook that the real support for her candidate is in the "voices of the people who call in and want to talk to Hillary every single day." Polls are, of course, an important part of estimating voter support in any election. But the real test for both campaigns is the upcoming Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary in early February.
Sanders' Consistent Campaign Themes Resonate
We knew that Sen. Sanders' eloquent and fiercely argued calls for a "political revolution" have echoed with the Democratic Party's active base for months now, but it was interesting to hear the way the two supporters we featured today spoke about their candidate. "When people hear Bernie's message, they really respond," said Linda Sutton, a Washington state Sanders campaign organizer and volunteer. And Sunday's debate in Charleston, which tallied the largest viewing audience for a Democratic Presidential Debate since October, did a lot to spread Sanders' message of economic inequality and political realignment to a broad audience.
Both Clinton And Sanders' Bases Feel Misunderstood By The Media
Our comment sections already tell us how much many of our listeners think their voices aren't being heard in our coverage of the Presidential primary process. And our guests today spoke to how much of the popular perception of the Democratic Socialist U.S. Senator and Former Secretary of State, Senator and U.S. First Lady colors the language supporters feel they must use when speaking on behalf of their candidate. Either Sanders will be able to cross the political aisle and create meaningful policy change in Washington D.C., or he's too inexperienced for the job of the nation's highest executive. Either Clinton will be a caring and deeply experienced President with an ear for what voters are talking about, or she's a distant and highly removed candidate of the past too bound by her years of D.C. political games and corporate lobbying to truly be an efficient leader. Which characterization is accurate? It depends on the voter or campaign volunteer you speak to.
The true test for the primary process that's yet to start will be if either candidate's core supporters make the jump to the candidate who ends up winning the primary. Based on our conversation today, we can't be sure, but we are certain there will continue to be fascinating debates about policy, politicians and the nation's future in the weeks and months to come.