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A new Gallup poll measures the enthusiasm of each presidential candidate’s supporters. One of their conclusions merits a closer look:

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton’s supporters are more enthusiastic than Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters, 54% vs. 44%.

Wait, what? Why do I keep hearing that Sanders supporters are far more enthusiastic than Clinton supporters? Doesn’t Sanders get massive crowds at his rallies? Isn’t he receiving far more small donations from individual donors? Doesn’t he consistently win caucus states where enthusiasm counts more than numbers?

But as Electoral-Vote points out, Sander’s supporters tend to be younger, while Clinton’s tend to be older. And in general, older people don’t go to rallies, but they are far more reliable voters. And it is the vote that counts.

Gallup speculates that the enthusiasm around Clinton is based on the historic nature of her candidacy and also their confidence that she will become both the first female major-party nominee and the first woman president. It also might be because Clinton is associated with the Obama administration, and Obama’s rising approval ratings indicate that people are waking up to how good a president Obama has been.

The bottom line is, don’t believe every media or internet narrative. As Electoral-vote points out “sometimes they are true but sometimes not. It depends on who is doing the narrating and which axe is being ground.”



  1. Mike wrote:

    Electoral Vote seems to think how people actually act at caucuses where Sanders does extremely well – taking hours to participate in the process of expressing a preference – isn’t as good an indicator of enthusiasm as what they say when asked in a poll. I’m not an expert, but I don’t see how Clinton’s supporters generally not participating in caucuses reconciles easily with “very enthusiastic.”

    Just as Electoral Vote warns us not to “believe every media or internet narrative,” so too we might want to see a little more evidence before declaring that what seems to be true isn’t.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Mike, I totally agree with you that this poll should not be taken as gospel without further scrutiny. But neither should it be dismissed offhand. Even if it is something you don’t want to hear.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  3. Arthanyel wrote:

    This is garbage. Enthusiasm is not measured by how many people will reluctantly go to the polls and reliably vote for the lesser of two evils – it is based on how many people that regularly show up to vote excited about their candidate, and how many that normally don’t vote show up for the same reason.

    By any rational measure, the average Bernie supporters are an order of magnitude more enthusiastic about Bernie that the average Hillary supporters are about Hillary.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  4. Mike wrote:

    IK – I didn’t dismiss it but, rather, expressed some reservations about conclusions that so fly in the face of what we’re seeing in all of the caucus states. (And it’s not a matter of dismissing facts that I don’t like – I’m not, after all, a Republican.)

    My take on the Democratic primary is that Clinton has done very well in states that are unlikely to go Democratic in 2016, and that Sanders has so far done as well as Clinton or better in states that are part of the Blue Wall. It seems a shame to have the Democratic nominee largely picked by Red State primaries (and, of course, DWS), as seems to be the case this year

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  5. redjon wrote:

    Or maybe it’s a slow news day and somebody thought the results of this poll would encourage enthusiasm. Wisconsin isn’t until next week, after all, and things seem to have gotten a little quiet.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  6. ThatGuy wrote:

    I don’t find it hard to believe that Clinton voters are enthusiastic. The first woman President will be a big deal, and everyone should be very excited about that milestone even if you don’t consider yourself excited for Clinton. Additionally, there are her supporters from as far back as she’s been involved with public life who have stuck with her through all the crap the GOP (and not a few Democrats) have thrown at her. To them, this must feel like the realization and vindication of a long, difficult battle.

    I think part of the perception that Sanders supporters are more excited than Clinton supporters is due, as IK notes, to the nature of the rallies. I’d extend that to general campaign events and speeches too. Sanders gets his crowds fired up by being clearly angry and enthusiastic. If Clinton approaches her speeches the same way she takes hell for being shrill or not smiling enough.

    I’ll be the first to tell you that the DNC lined up too quickly and too eagerly (and way too obviously) for Clinton at the expense of meaningful debate and discussion over the heart of the party. But I’ll also be the first to tell you that Clinton gets the short end of the stick in a lot of other areas, and that isn’t entirely earned.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  7. Mike wrote:

    I don’t understand why rallies are the measure that folks use to dismiss enthusiasm for Sanders, while ignoring caucuses. So far as I’m aware, Clinton enthusiasts are allowed to attend caucuses, but seem not to care enough to show up.

    Perhaps, they too, assume that Clinton is inevitable and needn’t waste their time supporting the candidate about whom they are “very enthusiastic.” Odd stance.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    Mike says: “I don’t understand why rallies are the measure that folks use to dismiss enthusiasm for Sanders, while ignoring caucuses. So far as I’m aware, Clinton enthusiasts are allowed to attend caucuses, but seem not to care enough to show up.”

    I don’t understand why caucuses are the measure that folks use to dismiss enthusiasm for Clinton, while ignoring primaries where people actually vote. So far as I’m aware, Sanders enthusiasts are allowed to vote in primaries too, and yet seem not to care enough to show up. Clinton not only has more delegates, she has more people who have voted for her (and that’s including the caucuses). Doesn’t that count for something, especially given how much “enthusiasm” Sanders has?

    I also want to point out a huge hole in Mike’s argument in comment #4. The number of delegates each state has is based on the number of people who voted for the Democratic nominee in the last few presidential elections (not total population). So a “red state” has significantly fewer delegates than a solidly “blue state”. So saying that Clinton has gotten more delegates from states that are unlikely to go Democratic this election is just wrong.

    And Arthanyel, if you claim “by any rational measure the average Bernie supporters are an order of magnitude more enthusiastic than the average Hillary supporters”, can you provide me of any such measure that actually means anything? Her fellow politicians and party officials (the “super delegates”) are way more enthusiastic about Clinton (by 469 to 31, which is more than an order of magnitude). And not counting them at all, Clinton has more pledged delegates, and as I just said, she has racked up more actual votes. Do you have another measure?

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
  9. Mike wrote:

    IK: Several points.

    Clinton’s big victories, as I’ve suggested, have been in red or red leaning states, in the south that are unlikely to go blue in the fall. Admittedly, Clinton has a large advantage with blacks in the south. That advantage, however, isn’t likely to put those states in the Democratic column come November. It’s interesting, but not compelling.

    A reduced number of delegates in the Democratic primary from a red leaning state based on past voting patterns isn’t equal to no electoral votes as would be the case in a presidential winner take all election. So Clinton’s showing in red leaning states isn’t really relevant to the general election.

    I’m not sure about (and you cite no source for) your claim that “saying that Clinton has gotten more delegates from states that are unlikely to go Democratic this election is just wrong.” I look at her margins from the deep south and (admittedly) ignoring her super delegate margin, I don’t see that as true.

    In those states that are solidly and reliably blue, Sanders has more than held his own. I don’t understand why that’s so hard for a Clinton supporter to admit.

    I don’t mind being shown I’m wrong, I do, however, dislike the dismissive tone you’ve taken to my fairly reasonable posts.

    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Mike, you are arguing that Clinton’s big wins don’t mean as much in states that are normally red (like in the South). But as I just pointed out, the size of the delegate pool of each state accounts for its red/blue tint. The Democrats do this in order to compensate for the problem you claim is happening. Thus, if Sanders was really doing so much better in states that will go blue in the general election, he would be getting more primary delegates from those states.

    Second, you are talking about blacks in the south, but the entire western half of the US has more Hispanics and other minorities than blacks. And Clinton is doing very well with Hispanics and other minorities, so I think you are cherry picking your data.

    Third, and perhaps more importantly, your argument assumes that there is a strong relationship between results in the primary and results in the general election. Why would you assume that Clinton will only get the same voters in the general that she got in the primary? Are you assuming that Sanders voters will not vote for Clinton in the general election? If it is indeed true that Sanders supporters would rather see someone like Trump or Cruz president if Sanders is not the nominee, then that is a sad state of affairs for the Democrats. I know some Sanders supporters are claiming that is true, but the same thing happened in 2008 when many Clinton supporters claimed they would not vote for Obama. But in the end, virtually all of them came around. Also, Clinton likely has a chance of picking up many of the Republican moderates and conservatives who refuse to vote for Trump.

    Fourth, you are not accounting for the fact that the Republicans are continually attacking Clinton, while I have not seen any attacks against Sanders from them. I believe strongly that if Sanders is the Democratic nominee, and either Cruz or Trump were the Republican nominee, then the Republicans would have no chance of winning unless they go desperately and completely negative against Sanders, which they most certainly would in a way that would make their attacks against Clinton look mild by comparison. This point is my opinion and I have no proof for it, but it is based on lots of past experience.

    I want to point out that what I am saying doesn’t mean I don’t like Sanders. I love many of his positions, but that’s not the problem. Not only do I think he is less likely to win the presidential election, even if he is elected I don’t think he will be able to achieve virtually any of his agenda. Indeed, Sanders does not have a particularly strong record of success in the Senate. Can you name a significant achievement of Sanders in Congress? Him voting against a bill that passed anyway doesn’t count. Actually, I can — the “energy efficiency and conservation grant program” — a good program, and Sanders wrote the bill. But did you even know who Sanders was before this election? I’m sure you knew who Hillary Clinton was.

    Incidentally, while I would have preferred if Clinton had voted against the Iraq war, the resolution would have passed even if she had. Sanders voting against it would have been far more powerful if he had been able to get others to vote with him and defeat the resolution, which he did not. Not entirely his fault of course, but not a success for him either.

    A more interesting complaint against Hillary Clinton, to me, would be to point out that she was not able to achieve health care reform when she was first lady. But then, she wasn’t the president. Still…

    Finally, I am a pragmatist not an ideologue, and Sanders is definitely an ideologue.

    Oh, and I’m not sure why you think I have a dismissive tone toward your comments. I started my first comment saying that “I totally agree with you”. If I am being dismissive at all, it is because my post was about media narrative, and you (and others) seemed to want to turn it into a Clinton versus Sanders debate. I’m tired of that debate. The primary will run its course and one of them will win. On a similar note, I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who attended the Dem caucus in Washington State, and she said the Sanders supporters at her caucus site were so obnoxious (calling Clinton supporters “idiots” and other rude things) that she wanted to vote for Clinton just to spite them. There seems to be a fine line between “enthusiasm” and “obnoxious name calling”. If I wanted the latter, I’d become a Republican. 🙂

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 1:52 am | Permalink
  11. ThatGuy wrote:

    Much of Sanders’ legislative success has been through amendments, the NYT ran a piece about this recently that initially painted him as very successful in this method of legislating, but was later edited fairly significantly to fit the narrative that IK paints above. Far from a legislator with no, or at least muted accomplishments, he’s actually been rather effective at “getting things done” (which, again, is one of the absolute weakest reasons to back Clinton, given our current Congress). From the original piece:

    “Over one 12-year stretch in the House, he passed more amendments by roll call vote than any other member of Congress. In the Senate, he secured money for dairy farmers and community health centers, blocked banks from hiring foreign workers and reined in the Federal Reserve, all through measures attached to larger bills.”

    Related articles:



    Seriously, just look at the change in title if we’re talking about setting a narrative.

    Taibbi criticism of NYT:

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 6:42 am | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thatguy, yeah, I am not happy with the NY Times either, but at least they not as bad as the majority of conservative media (like Fox News).

    Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives. For example, here’s an interesting graph from about Bernie Sanders:

    Bernie Sanders

    The horizontal axis shows that Sanders is the most progressive senator. No surprise there! The vertical axis shows how effective Sanders has been in getting other senators to co-sponsor his bills. They call this the “leadership score”. Sanders is about average overall, but compared to other progressive senators he is near the bottom of the pack. If you click on the link, you can see the senator associated with each dot in the graph.

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink
  13. ThatGuy wrote:

    I won’t argue that he gets a lot of his bills passed, he doesn’t, but passing bills with your name on them isn’t the only way to get things done in Congress (which is either an endorsement of a flexible system or a condemnation of a broken one). The point is that he’s effective in using “side doors” to pass amendments to larger bills that get things like youth jobs programs or higher visa fees.

    As to the NYT, I love it as a paper and I hold it to far higher standards than Fox. That’s what makes it more disappointing when the pro-Clinton bias shows so clearly. Ditto the DNC. There are serious problems with Clinton as a potential President, even if she’d obviously be better than any of her possible general election opponents. The NYT and DNC are doing neither themselves nor Clinton any real favors by marginalizing her primary challenger, and it makes it easier to see a sort of crown-princess entitlement to her whole run (see her recent interaction (read: bald-faced lying) with a Greenpeace activist) that makes her grate against some voters all the more.

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  14. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thatguy, I can see your points. Sanders has used the amendment process relatively effectively. And your point about Clinton being the anointed one is a not-completely-false media narrative. I do give Clinton credit for not buying into it — I think she has avoided trying to marginalize Sanders. In fact, I think she knows that marginalizing him would be a bad thing. Having a real race in the primary is good for the Democrats. I have repeatedly said that I want Sanders to stay in the race until the convention (and if he wins, I would support him wholeheartedly). It is the over-the-top attacks against Clinton (and Clinton supporters) that is bothering me.

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  15. ThatGuy wrote:

    I’d agree that Clinton as the anointed one is not something borne necessarily out of herself or her campaign. After all, it was CNN (I think) that had her face leading a story about who would run in 2016… on November 7, 2012.

    As ever, we can do with less vitriol, and supporters/surrogates/whatever of both the Clinton and Sanders camps need to recognize that. Having Gloria Steinem slut-shame young female Sanders supporters is no more helpful than harassing Clinton supporters or suggesting Clinton is just the other side of the GOP coin or other such nonsense.

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  16. Iron Knee wrote:

    Totally agree, Thatguy.

    By the way, for the people in here who want to argue enthusiasm and facts, please read this new article by Nate Silver —

    Friday, April 1, 2016 at 9:24 pm | Permalink