Polls show that an increasing number of Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters say they will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sen. Bernie Sanders may be trailing Hillary Clinton by hundreds of delegates, and Clinton may be treating the Democratic nomination as hers, but Julie Crowell, a stay-at-home mother and a die-hard Sanders supporter, is holding out for an 11th-hour miracle: divine deliverance at the hands of the FBI.
Like many Sanders supporters, Crowell, 37, said she hoped Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state would yield an indictment, and she described it as the kind of transgression that would disqualify another politician seeking high office.
“She should be removed,” said Crowell, of Tustin, Calif., who attended a Sanders rally in Anaheim on Tuesday and said she planned to vote for a third-party candidate if Sanders fails to capture the Democratic nomination. “I don’t know why she’s not already being told, ‘You can’t run because you’re being investigated.’ I don’t know how that’s not a thing.”
Campaigning in California, where polls show a tightening primary race, Sanders continued to hit Clinton over her positions on Wall Street, trade deals, the minimum wage, hydrofracking and super PACs — seemingly everything except her emails, which he famously took off the table as an issue during an early Democratic debate. But Clinton faces renewed criticism after an inspector general’s report faulted her for violating the State Department’s records-retention policy. And as the FBI continues its investigation into the handling of classified information, attendees at Sanders rallies have repeatedly expressed hope that the scandal would result in criminal charges against Clinton.
“If there’s any chance of her getting indicted, they shouldn’t even consider her for the nomination,” said Zachary O’Neill, 21, of Escondido.
Polls show an increasing number of Sanders supporters say they will not vote for Clinton in the general election. It’s a position not unlike that held by many of her supporters in 2008 before they eventually rallied around Barack Obama. And while Sanders has said he will do all he can to defeat Donald Trump, the vitriol for Clinton coursing through Sanders’ audiences lately — where “Bernie or Bust” signs are common and the mention of his rival prompts boos or insults — suggests that party unity might be even more difficult to achieve this time. Sanders supporters have also begun to protest at Clinton’s events with signs that read, “Where are Hillary’s emails?”
Victor Vizcarra, 48, of Los Angeles, said he would much prefer Trump to Clinton. Although he said he disagreed with some of Trump’s policies, Vizcarra said he had watched “The Apprentice” and expected that a Trump presidency would be more exciting than a “boring” Clinton administration. “A dark side of me wants to see what happens if Trump is in,” said Vizcarra, who works in information technology.
Jackie Becerra, 28, an executive assistant who lives in Lake Forest, also said she was leaning toward voting for Trump Nov. 8 if Sanders is not the Democratic nominee. She said she doubted that Trump would build a wall along the border with Mexico, and that, even though his proposal to bar foreign Muslims from entering the United States made her “nervous,” she did not believe he could stop people from coming into the country based on their religion.
Such thinking worries Pete Navarro, 65, a lawyer in Los Angeles who supports Sanders but said he planned to vote for Clinton if she was the eventual Democratic nominee. “I think it’s a mistake to demonize Hillary Clinton,” he said. “I think that just serves Republican purposes. It’s chopping your nose off to spite your face.”