Democrats are not necessarily on board with the less-than-cheerful attitude Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has exhibited on the campaign trail, which could explain why many of Sanders’ former supporters are looking to others, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Sanders won over the hearts and minds of many enthusiastic Democrats during the 2016 primary race against Hillary Clinton. His generally grouchy nature resonated with supporters, who were frustrated with not only at the GOP but the Democrat establishment for giving Sanders a backseat to Clinton.
Sanders’ infamously angry ambiance is not resonating with voters as well this time around, according to the Washington Post, which highlighted the “overall dynamics” shift in this election cycle.
“I just feel Warren has more of a better understanding of it all,” former Sanders supporter Jonathan Eren told the Washington Post.
“He brings it from ‘I’m gonna yell about it, and I’m angry,’” Andrew Bauld, another former Sanders supporter said. “Senator Warren has similar ideas but brings it in an exciting package.”
They are not the only voters who feel that way:
Nicholas Mathews, a 33-year-old self-employed barber from Bremerton, Wash., said he supported Sanders during the 2016 primary but did not vote. Though he said his friends are split 50-50 between Sanders and Warren, he is now partial to the senator from Massachusetts, in part because her messaging feels “softer.”
Sanders’s approach “is a little more aggressive, and not in a ‘take stance’ sort of way, [but] in a ‘take him down’ kind of way,” he said. “He had his time.”
Barbara Underwood, an 87-year-old retired state legislator who lives in Sugar Hill, N.H., said she supported Clinton in both the 2016 primary and general elections. She argued that Sanders is partly responsible for Clinton’s defeat — a characterization that Sanders and his allies heatedly deny — and questioned whether he did enough to rally his supporters behind the Democratic Party’s eventual nominee. She worries that he could cost Democrats the upcoming election.
“I figure he was a spoiler in the last election,” Underwood said. “I think a lot of people that would’ve — maybe should’ve — voted for Clinton voted for Bernie, and that split the vote . . . I sort of hold it against him, having done it once, maybe going to do it again.”
The shift of support from Sanders to Warren has not gone unnoticed. Both candidates espouse similar ideas, embracing the more progressive flank of the Democrat party. Both are proponents of radical proposals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, but Warren appears to offer her ideas in a more measured way.
Sanders, on the other hand, poses his mission as a “revolution.” Warren, in many ways, presents her ideas in terms that are “less scary,” Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston said.
“It’s not as though [Warren is] content to thunder against the evildoers like an Old Testament prophet. That’s much more his mode,” Galston said, according to the Washington Post.
“Sanders sees [his campaign] as a revolutionary mass movement to upset the established order. While Senator Warren is obviously very dissatisfied with the status quo, she describes her campaign in very different terms and terms that I think are less scary,” he added.
Sanders is currently in a close battle with Warren for second place nationally. Real Clear Politics shows the Vermont senator holding a slight edge over Warren, besting her by .6 percent.