I recently read a few news articles talking about a class action lawsuit against the DNC for cheating Bernie Sanders out of the primaries. Is there any truth to these claims that there were concerted efforts of Democratic politicians and the establishment to rig the primary for Hillary Clinton? If there is evidence that the DNC colluded against Bernie, why the heck would they do that?

My reason for asking is just that I think Bernie would have been a better opponent than Hillary was in the election and I am confused about why the DNC would side with one candidate if they did, in fact, do so.

One other article on Snopes had some info about all this too, but I don't feel like they provided any definitive answers that I was looking for. Here is the tweet that WikiLeaks sent out with a summary of the claims:

DNC emails

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    "Is there any truth ...? If there is ... why ...?" These are two questions posed in one and the second is even conditioned on the outcome of the first one. I strongly recommend asking them sequentially. This should give much better Q&A in the end. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 10:54
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    I think the edit makes this even more pure speculation.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:20
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    Honestly, I think this question is a fantastic example of why a politics StackExchange doesn't make sense. Politics is a land of argument, not one of clear questions or answers. One of the two top voted answers to this question is attempting to refute the premise of it -- but leans heavily on opinion sources making arguments. It's literally impossible to determine what the true facts are in this matter. We cannot know what was in the heads of the people in the DNC. We cannot truly isolate the impact of their actions from the complex system that is politics. It's impossible to answer this Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 21:11
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    So because you disagree with my opinion you can strip my question of most of its context in regards to why I asked it and drastically change the core meaning of the title? I can maybe understand the reasoning behind removing the edit even though I think it was necessary, but every single one of the posted answers was posted under "Why did the DNC try" question title. I guess I will leave the question the way you want it instead of the way I meant to ask it if that is how this site is run...
    – MultiMike
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 12:09
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    The ongoing edit wars, especially by the author, let me believe that the question is not asked in good faith. If the author would really be interested in possible motives, the altered title would make no difference. As it is, it seems that not the answer is important, but the question should work as a statement itself. Thus I am voting to close.
    – Thern
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 12:41

7 Answers 7


In short, because Democratic Party in USA is roughly split between two factions (I'll label them "progressive" and "establishment" just for the sake of labeling).

FiveThirtyEight covered this split in great detail in the last couple of months (as well as a split in Republican party); but for the purposes of this question, Sanders represented the "progressive" wing and Clinton "established" wing.

DNC leadership from what I understand is largely "established" wing and as such preferred Clinton to Sanders. Why? That could be for a variety of reasons:

  • pragmatic politics (they could have thought that an establishment candidate has a better chance in general election, which is more or less the mainstream theory in Political Science since (e.g. Median Voter Theorem) at the very least McGovern's drastic loss and a reason for DNC superdelegates).

  • ideology. They simply agree with Clinton's ideas more than Sanders

  • somewhat related, or correllated, tribalism - Sanders "isn't a real democrat!". As a reminder, he technically wasn't - he was a self-described Socialist (technically elected as Independent) as far as party membership in Congress.

    "Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do," (from DNC email dump)

  • conservatism (as a psychological trait, not political philosophy). Sanders' brand of firebrand populism may not necessarily sit well with powerful establishment, who would prefer not to rock the boat too much as it could affect their own position.

  • identity politics. Clinton was the female candidate, in the minds of some people preferable to any male candidate regardless of other considerations (ironically, those people would probably more naturally belong to progressive wing of DNC, but them's the breaks - I vaguely recall 538 reporting that something like 90% of women of color voted for Clinton).

  • power politics. The Clintons represent a big power center; and people often support such power centers to benefit themselves. Or, people owed favors to Clintons, which is in the same general bucket.

  • "her turn". While I'm unsure of how popular the concept was, there definitely people who felt that running strong in 2008 primaries "entitled" Clinton to a turn at the wheel.

P.S. As an aside, the question's current phrasing makes an assumption that DNC prevented Sanders from getting the nomination. While this answer presents the plausible reasons for DNC to want to do so, I'm not actually aware of any ironclad proof that - despite some obvious efforts - DNC actually succeeded in that even assuming they uniformly wanted this (in other words, there needs to be tangible proof that without DNC efforts, Sanders would have won to make the assumption). 538 seems to have disagreed even early in the primaries. As well as much later.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion. This conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 22:55
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    Another possible reason (if it's true) is donations -- Clinton was getting money from some rather deep pockets (eg, new york bankers) that Sanders was talking about needing to regulate more. If Sanders was elected, it's possible that they feared those donations would dry up as Sanders pushed the policies that he talked about on the campaign trail that would redude the profitability of some companies. (this could fit under a few of the headings you have)
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 17:00
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    @Philipp: Please recognize that chat is non-functional (at least in some browsers), so "move to chat" translates as "I don't want you folks to keep discussing this", the more so as it appears to be used to censor "politically incorrect comments.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 18:30
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    @jamesqf The chatroom works fine for me.
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 18:32
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    This site is ruined by terrible, biased moderators like Philipp and Sam. They alter questions and delete comments that do not fit their biased political agenda.
    – MultiMike
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 20:44

The idea that the DNC "rigged" the primaries is false.

I voted Bernie in the primary, too, but it is very important not to take the claim in the WikiLeaks graphic at face value.

This July 2016 New Republic article debunks the claim: No, the DNC Didn’t Rig the Primary in Favor of Hillary:

Wikileaks’s tweets conjured dark and menacing conspiracies, but these are not borne out by the emails themselves. Take the group’s claim that the “DNC knew of Hillary paid troll factory attacking Sanders online.” The highlighted email isn’t some secret communication laying out nefarious plots. It’s a summary of a panel discussion on Fox News Sunday.

But forget the emails for a second. The main problem with the notion that the DNC rigged the results for Clinton is that it requires one to assume the improbable. The DNC had no role or authority in primary contests, which are run by state governments. Clinton dominated the primaries. The DNC, through state parties, had a bit more influence over caucuses … where Sanders dominated Clinton.

None of the thousands of leaked emails and documents show the DNC significantly influencing the results of the nomination. Furthermore, if it is true that last fall Clinton campaign chair John Podesta tried but failed to have DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz sacked, the underlying premise of the entire WikiLeaks dump—that Wasserman Schultz machinated to deliver Clinton the nomination—is hard to believe.

See also Kurt Eichenwald's fiery but comprehensive Newsweek article, The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election:

Almost every email that set off the “rigged” accusations was from May 2016. (One was in late April; I’ll address that below.) Even in the most ridiculous of dream worlds, Sanders could not have possibly won the nomination after May 3—at that point, he needed 984 more pledged delegates, but there were only 933 available in the remaining contests. And political pros could tell by the delegate math that the race was over on April 19, since a victory would require him to win almost every single delegate after that, something no rational person could believe.

In other words, the emails were supportive of the at-that-time mathematically-certain Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Eichenwald continues:

Once only one candidate can win the nomination, of course the DNC gets to work on that person’s behalf. Of course emails from that time would reflect support for the person who would clearly be the nominee. And given that their jobs are to elect Democrats, of course DNC officials were annoyed that Sanders would not tell his followers he could not possibly be the nominee. Battling for the sake of battling gave his supporters a false belief that they could still win—something that added to their increasingly embittered feelings.

He concludes:

Bottom line: The “scandalous” DNC emails were hacked by people working with the Kremlin, then misrepresented online by Russian propagandists to gullible fools who never checked the dates of the documents. And the media, which in the flurry of breathless stories about the emails would occasionally mention that they were all dated after any rational person knew the nomination was Clinton’s, fed into the misinformation.

In the real world, here is what happened: Clinton got 16.9 million votes in the primaries, compared with 13.2 million for Sanders. The rules were never changed to stop him, even though Sanders supporters started calling for them to be changed as his losses piled up.

In a detailed state-by-state analysis, FiveThirtyEight declared (at the time) that The System isn't Rigged Against Sanders:

Realistically, if you throw everything together, the math suggests that Sanders doesn’t have much to complain about. If the Democratic nomination were open to as many Democrats as possible — through closed primaries — Clinton would be dominating Sanders. And if the nomination were open to as many voters as possible — through open primaries — she’d still be winning.

One important point, mentioned also by some of the articles above:

The DNC conspiracy claim was Russian propaganda, picked up by Bernie supporters, and later by Trump supporters

US Officials Say They Have Proof Russia Provided WikiLeaks with Hacked DNC Emails:

Three US officials confirmed this week that the intelligence community had conclusive evidence after the election that Russian cybercriminals provided WkiLeaks with hacked information from the DNC, reuters reports.

The timing of the release of these emails, the night before the Democratic National Convention, was clearly planned for maximum damage to the party.

Bernie's campaign manager even supported the narrative:

Weaver said the emails showed misconduct at the highest level of the staff within the party and that he believed there would be more emails leaked, which would "reinforce" that the party had "its fingers on the scale."

Later in the general election, Trump picked up on the claim and used it against Clinton (one tweet of many to choose from):

President Obama should ask the DNC about how they rigged the election against Bernie.

This narrative was reinforced by Russian Twitter bots and fake Facebook personas:

An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign.

The New York Times article continues, detailing the focus these (suspected) Russian sources had on the "corrupt Hillary" narrative:

Several activists who ran Facebook pages for Bernie Sanders, for instance, noticed a suspicious flood of hostile comments about Mrs. Clinton after Mr. Sanders had already ended his campaign and endorsed her.

John Mattes, who ran the “San Diego for Bernie Sanders” page, said he saw a shift from familiar local commenters to newcomers, some with Eastern European names — including four different accounts using the name “Oliver Mitov.”

“Those who voted for Bernie, will not vote for corrupt Hillary!” one of the Mitovs wrote on Oct. 7. “The Revolution must continue! #NeverHillary”

Finally, it is naïve to think that Bernie would have had an easy time against Trump

From Eichenwald's Newsweek article quoted earlier:

So what would have happened when Sanders hit a real opponent, someone who did not care about alienating the young college voters in his base? I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn him apart....

The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don’t know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.) In other words, the belief that Sanders would have walked into the White House based on polls taken before anyone really attacked him is a delusion built on a scaffolding of political ignorance.

Plenty of other dirt out there on Bernie, if, like the Republicans, you want to spin it that way:

Consider the claim that BernieWouldaWon. This is based on many things, but there's a base assumption that he wasn't "flawed" or "tarnished" or whatever word we are using today. That Clinton's "flaws" brought her down.

Okay. Let's play "Bernie Woulda Been Flawed". How would that go down? Well, here's a few samples.

  1. Bernie the Liar.
  2. Bernie the Creepy Sex Freak.
  3. Saunders the Stalinist.
  4. Jane Sanders, or, Bernie's College Plan is Terrible.
  5. Sanders the Racist Nativist
  6. Sanders and Trump are Just the Same, but Maybe Bernie's Worse.

(Read the article for details and references for each. Remember, that author doesn't believe these things about Bernie, but is giving examples of how they could have been used against him.)

EDIT: The lawsuit against the DNC was dismissed in August 2017

Florida judge dismisses fraud lawsuit against DNC:

“To the extent Plaintiffs wish to air their general grievances with the DNC or its candidate selection process, their redress is through the ballot box, the DNC’s internal workings, or their right of free speech — not through the judiciary,” Judge William Zloch, a Reagan appointee, wrote in his dismissal. “To the extent Plaintiffs have asserted specific causes of action grounded in specific factual allegations, it is this Court’s emphatic duty to measure Plaintiffs’ pleadings against existing legal standards. Having done so . . . the Court finds that the named Plaintiffs have not presented a case that is cognizable in federal court.”

To be clear, the judge ruled that none of the plaintiffs had "standing", not necessarily that their claims of partiality were necessarily false:

The complaint itself was far more narrow, and it was dismissed after Zloch ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing. There was no evidence, the judge wrote, that anyone had donated to the DNC on the promise that the committee and its employees would be completely impartial.

“Not one of them alleges that they ever read the DNC’s charter or heard the statements they now claim are false before making their donations,” Zloch wrote. “And not one of them alleges that they took action in reliance on the DNC’s charter or the statements identified in the First Amended Complaint. Absent such allegations, these Plaintiffs lack standing.”

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    That doesn't seem to answer the question, merely critiques its (easily editable) premise.
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 23:25
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    @user4012 The question is based on a false premise that the DNC didn't merely prefer Hillary over Bernie, but that they "cheated" him out of the nomination. This answer rebuts that premise, making "why would they do such a thing" moot. It also rebuts the premise that Bernie necessarily had a better chance against Trump than Clinton did.
    – BradC
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 3:24
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    @user4012 I think that rejecting the premise of a question can be an answer. Note though that this answer also contains an answer to the question as-is, namely that any action the DNC may have taken was after Sanders's chance of winning was basically 0, in order to strengthen the almost certain nominee.
    – tim
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:24
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    @reirab While I agree in principle, it's on the accusers to prove the DNC did have it out for Bernie, and my post explains that the best evidence they've provided (the stolen DNC emails) doesn't actually show what they are purported to show. Regarding why the chair resigned amid the uproar, I think one word is sufficient: politics.
    – BradC
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:23
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    @reirab The email dates show otherwise: you're not "working against Sanders" if the race is already over (to a mathematical certainty), you're just strategizing about how to move on from there.
    – BradC
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:44

It should also be mentioned that Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. He ran for the Senate as an independent. While he caucused with the Democrats, he never claimed to be one before running for president. For that matter, while running he barely claimed to be a Democrat. He joined party leadership, but now he's back to declaring himself an independent.

Is it any surprise that Democratic party partisans (which is what the Democratic National Committee is) did not want Sanders to win their nomination?

It's also worth noting that prior to the primaries, Sanders was considered a joke candidate. Sanders didn't seem particularly serious about running for president. He skipped the prep jobs, like raising money for other candidates. A number of times he said that he wanted to see changes from the party. Why would the DNC, which helped set the party platform, want to help him change it?

For example, here's an excerpt from an early story by CNN:

Sanders is a dark horse candidate and has acknowledged that his run will be uphill. A CNN/ORC poll in March found that Sanders has the support of only 3% of Democratic voters.

Back then, even progressives were looking for other candidates. For example, the same CNN story had

"MoveOn members welcome Sen. Bernie Sanders to the presidential race," said Galland. "The Democratic Party is made stronger by each additional voice who enters the race and commits to being a strong advocate for everyday, hardworking Americans and not just the wealthy few. That's why we and our allies continue to call on Sen. Elizabeth Warren to also bring her tireless advocacy for middle-class and working Americans to the race. Our country will be stronger if she runs."

At that time, even his natural supporters were looking for a better candidate. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton had courted her natural supporters for years. She convinced potentially better candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren to stay out. She had endorsements and funding lined up and waiting for her. On paper, she seemed the stronger candidate.

Now, in reality, we know that she lost. To Donald Trump, the most unpopular winner ever. But people didn't know that in 2015 and early 2016. And realize that they did know her. She had been active in Democratic causes and worked with many of the DNC people for years. Sanders ignored the DNC until he ran for president.

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    One thing this answer doesn't get into is that most of those "damning" emails happened after Sanders had any legit chance to win the primary. What the DNC staffers were trying to do was end a primary race that could no longer have any effect but hurt their nominee. They did the exact same thing against Clinton in 2008.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 14:31

The basic mechanism of a political party is to reward loyalty and create a unified front. Clinton had some 40+ years of favors to call in from various democrats, and anybody in the party who threw in for her could expect some obligation if/when she finally won.

Meanwhile Bernie was an independent his whole political career and not a member of the democratic party. Nobody in the democratic party owed him anything, nor vice-versa. The only relationship he had with the Democratic party is that he caucused with them in the Senate (he sat in on their private meetings).

So from the perspective of an average Democratic party member, here was an outsider coming in to hijack their party and platform to put himself up as president, when they had a candidate they had been working on for the past 15 years. Clinton's Senate tenure was in preparation for her 2008 run, and after Obama (who came up through the democratic party system) won, her being Secretary of State was further preparation for another run. It was basically Clinton's turn, from the insider perspective. Sanders had never done anything for the Democratic party.

On top of that, Clinton had incredible name recognition, and the DNC already knew what kind of attacks republicans would try against her. Sanders was a virtual unknown on the national stage, until he ran for president. They didn't know what kind of attacks would be run on him, or what skeletons from his past would be dug up. Clinton was a known quantity, a much safer bet, and political parties are inherently conservative.

As others have pointed out, the DNC didn't pull anything really underhanded or illegal for Sanders not to win, but it should be no surprise that the establishment didn't support him. They supported the candidate they had been preparing for the past decade and a half.

Edit The bottom of the meme makes the claim that the DNC (Democratic National Committee) is "supposedly ... a neutral party". This is just plain wrong. Nobody but the ignorant and politically naive suppose it to be a neutral party.

First off, as a political party it's a private organization, in every sense of the phrase, just like, say, a business, a men's club, or a church. They can do whatever they damn please. That being said, they do have an interest in attracting as wide a membership as possible, since their ostensible goal is to win elections.

In other words, political parties are private organizations, and don't have any duty or obligation to be transparent, democratic, fair, etc. They don't owe American citizens anything. They are not set up by the US constitution like the Congress or Presidency is. They are not answerable to anybody except their own members.

Second, they're not neutral. The point of a political party is to win power, not provide a platform for anyone who wants to run, or a level playing field for candidates to spar. They have a vested interest in winning. They could play as many dirty, unfair, or biased tricks as they want, so long as they aren't breaking the law.

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    This is a nice, rational answer.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:26
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    "First off, as a political it's a private organization". I think there is a word missing here. Possibly you meant to write "political party"? Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 15:07
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    I'd note that Smith v. Allwright (1944) was a Supreme Court case saying the Democratic Party in Texas did not have the right to have an all-white primary, prior to any voting rights legislation at the federal level. I don't know about the current Supreme Court, but the way the two parties have tangled themselves into our political system makes me think that similar rulings, restricting them more than a business or men's club, might be possible. (Which doesn't negate the core point there.)
    – prosfilaes
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 15:25

The premise that he was "prevented" from winning is a little misguided, he simply never had support. By no metric was he ever close to even being the most popular Democrat politician, let alone general politician.

Compare the 2016 Democratic elections against the 2008 elections, in which Hillary and Obama were within 100,000 votes of each other - very close. However, in 2016, Bernie was well over three million votes short of Hillary. His popularity was strong in some vocal urban districts, whose members might have been active on social media - but he never enjoyed widespread support from the rest of the party.

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    The question doesn't seem to be about if he was a good or viable candidate, (though that could be part of an answer) it asks why (if) the DNC took steps to influence the primary against him. I would think being hopeless makes it weirder to interfere, certainly they didn't put effort into undermining Mickie Mouse.
    – user9389
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 21:30
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    OP started from the presumption that Bernie was a better candidate, and if DNC leadership had acted differently, Bernie might have been a viable candidate. But that's working off flawed assumptions. I have to set us back to first principles (did the DNC take action against Bernie? Was it unusual? Can we trust the source? etc) before we can have a meaningful discussion (which will have to take place in other threads, since those are much different questions).
    – Knetic
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 22:24
  • That doesn't seem to answer the question, merely critiques its (easily editable) premise.
    – user4012
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 23:25
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    I'd rather answer OP's premise instead of edit it out. They asked a question and included that they believed Bernie to be a more viable candidate - the other things that were asked flowed directly from this assumption. We can't truly answer OP without explaining that this original assumption simply isn't true.
    – Knetic
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 0:55
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    While I agree that refuting the OP's premise is a valid answer, I think the claim that he "never had support" is a gross overstatement. 13.2 million vs 16.9 million isn't an indication of "no support" (see BradC's answer). Not to mention that polls had him at similar levels when pitted against republican candidates as Hillary. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 6:48

If we go back to the start of the 2016 campaign, which was really in the spring of 2015, Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee. At that time, the scandals that later beset her were not yet headline material. The Democrats who could have been competitive: Biden, Schumer, Cuomo, etc... had chosen not to challenge her.

The dems were most concerned about losing the 2016 election, having lost both the house and senate in the previous six years, indicating that the mood of the nation was swinging to the right of center. The last thing the DNC wanted was to have a populist candidate pushing the campaign platform further to the left. They fully expected to be facing a conventional centrist or right of center repub candidate in 2016, in a conventional campaign, with the mood of the nation swinging to the right, judging by voting patterns.

Bernie Sanders was a left leaning independent senator, running a quixotic campaign that no one expected to achieve any real level of support. It is likely that the DNC worked to undermine him to keep him from steering the debate and the platform to the left.

Remember, this was the view in early to mid 2015 - how naive that seems now.

By the time of the convention, Clinton scandals were front page news and her contrite answers simply made her look even more guilty, while the repubs had somehow ended up a boorish political neophyte as their prime candidate, and Sanders was polling higher than Clinton and Trump in the main election. In the main election, it now appears that a lot of Sanders supporters simply didn't vote at all, aghast at the shoddy way their candidate had been treated. They couldn't vote for the ogre, and wouldn't vote for the backstabber.

So the move to torpedo Sanders turned out to be a major blunder, especially after that move became obvious. Long before the purloined emails were released, the DNC had scheduled the primary debates during off viewing hours, presumably to limit coverage of Sanders The DNC at one point cut the Sanders campaign off from their voter information database as someone in the Sanders campaign had gotten into the Clinton campaign's private information. That person turned out to be an admin who had been recommended to the Sanders campaign by DNC chair Debbie Schultz. It seems the DNC chair sent a mole into the Sanders campaign to sabotage it.

Combined with the 'super delegates', selected by the party and not the voters, this made the DNC look like they had no interest in what the electorate thought. Back room politics at its worst.

The 2016 US presidential election was certainly one of the strangest on record.

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    This is the common conspiracy theory but is mostly hyperbole. That said, I can't argue with your conclusion. :)
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 14:49
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    Only if you don't like the conclusion. The democratic party did try to sink Sanders so they wouldn't get another McGovern situation, and they didn't plan on their anointed choice having so many problems emerge as the campaign went on. Ironically, the dems meddled in their primary when they shouldn't, while the repubs didn't meddle in their primary and perhaps they should have.
    – tj1000
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 16:48
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    I'm rather indifferent to the whole situation. From all the data I've seen, though, Sanders didn't really have a chance within the party. There's no doubt he had very vocal followers, they just weren't in the numbers he really needed. I think it's very fair to say the party preferred Clinton, but to say they torpedoed Sanders is, IMHO, hyperbole.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:00

There are two questions here: 1) Did the DNC try to prevent Sanders from winning the nomination, and 2) If in fact they did, why?

I can't speak to the first question, not having evidence, but it seems reasonable that they might have. If they did, the why seems pretty obvious: they wanted a Democratic candidate who stood a reasonable chance of winning the election. Leftist candidates, or those seen as such, are not popular with the American electorate. We have to go back quite a ways to find a candidate as far to the left as Sanders, all the way to George McGovern in 1972. The result was that Nixon carried 49 states, McGovern only Massachusetts, the second most lopsided election since WWII: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1972

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    Except that, even as Hillary was in the home stretch of wrapping up the nomination, back then, she was polling even or a point or two behind Trump in head to head polling, while Sanders was polling well ahead of Trump. So, as far as "reasonable chance," Sanders was actually a better matchup. If they match up, since Sanders is also a populist outsider, in the eyes of the public, he doesn't automatically lose the "establishment vs populist" votes like Hillary did. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 15:20
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    @PoloHoleSet: Which polls? I certainly don't recall seeing any. As for Sanders being a "populist", we must be using very different definitions of the word. His appeal seemed limited to the leftist elite and naive youth.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 17:15
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    @PoloHoleSet I don't recall that being the case but even if it was, it really doesn't mean anything...as Hillary was the candidate, so was taking the full brunt of any attacks. Just because an also-ran was polling high at that time doesn't mean they'd have done any better under direct attack from the opponent.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:26
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    @jamesqf - yes, we must have very different definition. For example, Trumps populist appeal can be said to be limited to racists and xenophobes, if we want to play that game. Which polls? Here's a fact-check on Sanders' claims to that effect - politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/may/29/bernie-s/… Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 20:34
  • "Leftist candidates, or those seen as such, are not popular with the American electorate." I don't see how you can know that, seeing that "leftist" (not a word I'm fond of) candidates are rare in US politics. Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 15:49

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