Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a Bernie 2020 rally at the Stifel Theater in downtown St. Louis, Missouri on March 9, 2020. (Photo: Tim Vizer/AFP via Getty Images)

Boosting Electability Argument, Sanders Has Won Independent Voters in 13 Out of 16 Exit Polls So Far

"The criteria by which we should judge any Democratic presidential candidate's electability is their popularity among Democratic-leaning independents and 'true independents' in swing states. And by that metric, Sanders excels."

Julia Conley

Despite predictions made by pundits and journalists in the corporate media regarding electability in the 2020 general election, exit polls in the states where Americans have voted so far show that Sen. Bernie Sanders is the most popular Democratic candidate among voters who are likely to be considered "swing voters" in November.

As Sanders's speechwriter, David Sirota, tweeted Friday, the Vermont senator is winning far more votes from independent voters than former Vice President Joe Biden.

According to CNN, Sanders has won independents in 13 out of 16 states where exit polls are conducted, including Minnesota and North Carolina, which are expected to be competitive in the general election.

"Weird that this hasn't been mentioned by anyone on cable TV in the 24-7 coverage of 'electability,'" Sirota wrote.

In CNN's polls, Sanders won the support of independent voters in every state so far except Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama.

The Washington Post also reported that a majority of independent voters supported Sanders in the states that voted last Tuesday—34% versus 26% for Biden.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also pointed to Sanders's success with independents, saying the exit polls are a sign that the senator could beat President Donald Trump in November.

"He is a stronger candidate than Biden against Trump," tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. "I’m not just saying that because we align on progressive policy. I'm saying it because I believe it is true."

In 2016, independent voters supported President Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

"The criteria by which we should judge any Democratic presidential candidate's electability is their popularity among Democratic-leaning independents and 'true independents' in swing states," wrote Nathan Tankus at Jacobin earlier this month. "And by that metric, Sanders excels."

Biden's electoral strategy is leaving independents and other groups out in the same way that Clinton's did, added Tankus—putting his potential success in November in question. 

"Biden has little shot of improving upon the expected turnout boosts from anti-Trump sentiment because of his weakness among younger people and Latino voters as well as his underwhelming field operation," Tankus wrote. "There would be no equivalent to a South Carolina primary to save Biden in the general election—especially not if he's repeating the same failed strategy as Hillary Clinton, which kept Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents unenthusiastic and disengaged."

Unless the Democratic candidate energizes Democratic-leaning independents and independents who don't lean toward any party affiliation, he added, the party will not be able to boost turnout in 2020.

"Sanders's strategy is not a pie-in-the-sky leftist dream, but a straightforward, clear-eyed understanding of electoral math," Tankus wrote.

NYU Law School professor Rob Howse pointed to recent polling that showed American voters' views on healthcare to help explain why Sanders has had success with independent voters which would likely carry over into the general election.

More than Democrats and Republicans, independents in the survey by the Financial Times said they believed rising healthcare costs are the biggest threat to the U.S. economy.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Really Fantastic': Europe's Largest Pension Fund Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment

It's "a huge victory for the climate, human rights, and all life on Earth," said one activist.

Andrea Germanos ·

Senate Urged to Quickly Confirm Net Neutrality Advocates to FCC Posts

The White House was expected to announce the nominations of acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel and Gigi Sohn.

Julia Conley ·

'A Political Scam, Not a Serious Plan': Groups Blast Australia Climate Pledge

"If Morrison expects to front up to COP 26 with this sorry excuse for a net-zero emissions target and no increase in formal ambition on Australia's 2030 target, he'll be laughed out of the room."

Andrea Germanos ·

'Manchin Wasn't Done' Killing Climate Action: Coal Baron Objects to Methane Fee

"If Democrats want to avoid... midterm losses," said one critic, they can't "bow to Joe Manchin's burn-the-planet demands."

Kenny Stancil ·

Pelosi and Hoyer to Progressives: Just Pretend Democrats Are Winning (Even If Corporate Lobbyists Are)

"If we don't act like we are winning, the American people won't believe it either," advised House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo