The primaries so far have exposed Hillary Clinton as a dangerously weak candidate for the general election on the basis of her inability to win over the kind of voters that Sanders has been drawing: the young, the liberals, and the “missing white voters.” The young and the liberals in the Sanders coalition have been drawing disproportionate attention, as they are consistent with the characterization of Sanders as the “unrealistic hippy” candidate. This blind spot, if it continues, will cost the Democrats dearly in November, although, this, in turn, will almost certainly ensure that Clinton has sewn up the Democratic nomination.
Nate Cohn at New York Times has been excellent in identifying the kind of demographics are drawn to both Sanders and Trump. In a badly titled but insightful article today, he identifies why the upcoming primaries do not favor Sanders as much as people think. The statement is: “These states aren’t as bad for him as those in the South, but they force him to confront his two weaknesses: diversity and affluence.” The young and the liberals may make up much, probably a majority of the Sanders coalition, but the third leg that provides his coalition with the potential winning edge, are the working class “missing white voters,” the same demographic drawn to Donald Trump (although those drawn to Trump may be older and more racist. Interestingly, this New Republic article points out that this disparity holds true even among the young demographics: state schools are pro-Sander s but elite private schools are not.) This is not a good combination for the Democrats: there is no chance that, if the liberals and the young turn out in November at all, they will remain in the Democratic camp. The same cannot be said for the “missing white voters.” Their natural landing spot is with Trump in November, if he has secured the GOP nomination.