Bernie fans never say die – or, at least, not willingly.
As Hillary Clinton ends the primaries as the first-ever female presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Bernie Sanders doesn’t seem quite ready to let go, charging that superdelegates could still help him become party’s leader.
Yet, with 1,812 pledged delegates and 571 superdelegates, according to ABC News, Clinton has enough support to claim victory.
So what’s next for the Vermont senator’s steadfast troop, which includes former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, and New York state senator Bill Perkins?
“Based on past history, I’d expect most Sanders supporters to rally behind Clinton for the general election, in the same way her supporters in 2008 rallied to Barack Obama,” Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics.com tells PEOPLE, “despite a close and bitterly fought primary race.”
Bevan notes that there are two distinct groups of Sanders supporters – independents and young voters – that Clinton must “consolidate.” Independents will be a hard-fought challenge for the Former Secretary of State, Bevan says, citing Donald Trump‘s current lead over Clinton “by an average of six points in the most recent general election polling.”
The young voters, he says “were among Sanders’ most die hard supporters,” and getting them on board should be among Clinton’s “top priorities.”
But those voters won’t go quietly into the Hillary camp. Melissa Baldridge, a 39-year-old digital marketing recruiter, told CNN, “Everybody in the mainstream media is in such a rush to have the story first that they call things prematurely.”
“By announcing that she had (the nomination), a lot of people decided to stay home, Baldridge charged. “That’s a form of voter repression.”
Others took to Twitter, with an account called World For Bernie writing, “WE WILL NOT YIELD. Even if @BernieSanders asked us to support @HillaryClinton, we won’t.”
Third-party candidates are also vying for Sanders’ send-offs, including Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who told CNN, “We are here in the event that they feel like they don’t have a place to go.” Even Trump got in on the action, saying during his Tuesday speech, “To all those Bernie Sanders voters who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms.”
“The real choice facing Sanders over the next couple of weeks is what kind of lesson he wants to impart to his supporters,” Vox’s Matthew Yglesias told the Washington Post. “Does he want to tell them that the system is rigged, and that candidates worth rallying for don’t have a chance to win? That they may as well join the large group of Americans who don’t really participate in the political process at all? Or does he want to tell them that when you fight the good fight, you sometimes lose, and then you stop and think about how to win next time?”
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Immediate resolution? Sanders will meet with President Barack Obama on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, noting, “The President looks forward to continuing the conversation with Senator Sanders about how to build on the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm in the weeks and months ahead.”
Obama and White House political director David Simas have been in communication with both campaigns, hoping to create some sort of unification before Philadelphia’s convention, reported the Post. The responsibility, however, is not on Sanders’ shoulders alone, though. “They’re both going to have to, in effect, compromise,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview.
Sanders was at home Wednesday, “assessing” his campaign, as plans were made to lay off at least half of his campaign staff, including both advance and field workers, a campaign official and a former campaign staff member told The New York Post.