- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Supporters of Sen. Bernard Sanders at last week’s convention still aren’t sold on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a survey of Sanders delegates released Tuesday that found few of them were won over by the four days of speeches urging unity.

Only 21 percent of Sanders delegates who responded to the survey said they were “more enthusiastic” about Mrs. Clinton and running mate Sen. Tim Kaine after the speeches. A stunning 45 percent, meanwhile, said they emerged “less enthusiastic.”

The survey was conducted by the Bernie Delegates Network, an independent group of Sanders backers, and 462 of them responded to an email asking for participation.

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While Democratic leaders — including Mr. Sanders himself — urged unity from the stage, his backers were not to be swayed.

They staged a sit-in in the press area, tried to recruit an alternate vice presidential candidate to Mr. Kaine, and created a constant din of protest during Mrs. Clinton’s own acceptance speech last Thursday. A number held signs during her speech signaling they would instead vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Norman Solomon, one of the organizers of the Bernie Network, in a letter published Monday in the Hill newspaper, said Mrs. Clinton was squandering a chance to unify her party by thinking she’d done enough to win over Sanders folks.

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“Complacency about getting the votes of people who went for Bernie in the primaries is dangerous, wishful thinking,” Mr. Solomon wrote. “You’re in danger of a steep falloff of turnout from Bernie’s primary voters. And crucially, in swing states, turnout will make all the difference. If an appreciable number of those Bernie voters opt to stay home or vote for a third-party candidate in the fall, here comes President Trump.”

Mrs. Clinton’s selection of Mr. Kaine was a particularly hard pill for Sanders backers to swallow. They said Mr. Kaine’s relatively pro-business record, and past statements on social issues, made them question whether he is committed to their causes — and they said in picking Mr. Kaine, Mrs. Clinton brought many of those same questions upon herself.

The Sanders backers say moderate voters don’t really exist anymore, and Mrs. Clinton would do better politically to try to keep up energy on her left political flank, which the Sanders supporters occupy.

“Whatever the reasons for your current approach, the consequences could be catastrophic. Beyond the fleeting praise for Bernie, your message to his delegates in Philadelphia wasn’t hard to discern: my corporate centrist way or the highway,” Mr. Solomon wrote. “If large numbers of Bernie supporters hit the road, you won’t have anyone to blame but yourself.”

Still, it’s unclear how widespread that discontent is.

Polling since the convention shows Mrs. Clinton has continued to unify her party, even as GOP opponent Donald Trump struggles to maintain discipline within his ranks.

And an NBC News survey released Tuesday found only 11 percent of Democrats said the convention made them less favorably inclined toward their own party.

A CNN/ORC survey released Monday found a striking number of Democrats — some 42 percent — still wish their party had nominated Mr. Sanders over Mrs. Clinton.

But the poll still found just 14 percent of Democrats believe they will be divided by the time of the election. By contrast, 31 percent of Republicans in the poll said the GOP will still be divided in November.

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