HUFFPOLLSTER: The Election System Didn't Doom Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton would have won more votes anyway.

Crunching the numbers shows that independents couldn't have won Bernie Sanders the nomination. Declining trust in political institutions could be driving support for Sanders and Donald Trump. And the “gold standard” of polling isn’t so pristine these days. This is HuffPollster for Friday, May 27, 2016.

CLINTON WOULD HAVE WON IN ANY PRIMARY SYSTEM - Harry Enten and Nate Silver: "Sanders fans have claimed that because caucuses have lower turnout the current national caucus and primary vote underrates how well Sanders is doing. In fact, the opposite is true. When we switch all caucuses over to primaries, Sanders actually does worse. Clinton’s lead in the popular vote would grow from 2.9 to 3.3 million votes. Moreover, her edge in elected delegates would expand significantly….But what would happen if every state held a primary that was open to independent voters? Clinton’s margin in the national popular vote shrinks to about 8 percentage points (from 12)….In fact, if all states held primaries open to independents — instead of closed primaries, or caucuses of any kind — Clinton might have a larger lead in elected delegates than she does now….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. [538]

Bernie Sanders voters will likely rally behind Clinton - Alan Abramowitz: "There is mounting concern in Democratic Party circles that even after Clinton clinches the nomination... she will have difficulty winning over Sanders’ base of young, liberal voters… An examination of survey data from the 2008 presidential election, an election in which Democrats experienced an equally if not more contentious nomination battle between Clinton and Barack Obama, suggests that unifying Democrats may actually be easier in 2016 than it was in 2008. The major reason for this is that Donald Trump is a far less attractive alternative to disgruntled Democrats than John McCain was in 2008….Sanders supporters probably do not have to love Clinton in order to vote for her in the general election. They merely have to like her as well or better than Trump, and that should be a very easy bar to clear." [UVA Center for Politics]

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WHAT TRUMP SAYS ABOUT THE MINIMUM WAGE MATTERS - HuffPollster: "Want to get people to support a policy they’d otherwise be lukewarm about? Tell them it’s backed by the candidate or party they like. It’s a human tendency that can lead to some especially interesting results when a party’s standard-bearer is as malleable on the issues as Donald Trump has proved to be….[Republicans and Republican leaners] who were told that Trump 'has said he’d like to see the minimum wage increased' agreed with him by a margin of 57 percent to 36 percent. Those who were told that he 'has said he would not raise the minimum wage' were notably more likely to express their own opposition to a wage hike, by a margin of 43 percent to 52 percent….It’s not uncommon for partisan opinions to shift in this way, nor is it especially unreasonable….But Trump has added an entirely new dimension to these types of public opinion polls. It’s not just because a significant portion of his voters will follow his lead on an issue, regardless of whether he’s contradicted himself. It’s because most Americans have no idea what he thinks about the issue."  [HuffPost]

MOST AMERICANS DON’T THINK ABOUT VOTING RIGHTS - Samantha Lachman: “National Democrats are doing more outreach than ever before to convince voters they are the party that defends the right to vote. But new polling from The Huffington Post and YouGov demonstrates they have some work to do to get that message to voters. This presidential election year is the first without the full protections of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA).... For 17 states, this presidential election will be the first in which new voting restrictions are in effect, according to the Brennan Center for Justice….Despite these stepped-up engagement efforts, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll reveals that a significant chunk of U.S. adults don’t have fully formed opinions about which party is more committed to protecting the right to vote. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they trust Democrats more on voting rights, 32 percent said they trust Republicans more and 30 percent said they were not sure.” [HuffPost]

AMERICANS USED TO TRUST POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS - Chris Jackson: “Donald Trump (and to a lesser degree Bernie Sanders) are contemporary political phenomenon….The question we hear more often than any is: how did this happen? How are Trump and Sanders doing so well? Part of the answer is that there has been a long-term crisis of confidence in America’s leaders. Trump and Sanders’s success is a symptom of that crisis. Since the 1970s, American confidence in major political institutions has plummeted. The General Social Survey (GSS) has asked Americans about their confidence in Congress, the President, the Supreme Court and the Press every two years since 1973. Over that period, the number of Americans with 'a great deal' or 'only some' confidence in these American institutions has collapsed. Particularly worrying is the fact that as of 2014 fewer than 1 in 5 Americans have ‘a great deal’ of confidence in these political leaders indicating a profound vacuum.” [Ipsos]

THERE’S NO ‘GOLD STANDARD’ OF ELECTION POLLING ANYMORE - HuffPollster: “As the general election season gets underway, the flood of polls is likely to keep coming in — which means the debate will rage on regarding which polls are credible, which methods are best and why. When you take a closer look at the way various polls are conducted, there’s no one method that stands out as inarguably better than all the rest….The various types of polling offered very different looks at the race. Live telephone polls in Iowa this year indicated that Donald Trump was up by nearly 7 points in the GOP contest. Automated polls, on the other hand, seemed to show that the race was tied. In the end, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the GOP’s Iowa caucus by 3 points….The conclusion seems to be that we can’t really predict which type of polling method will be most reliable in pre-election surveys….Maybe we should be focusing more on which polls are conceived and conducted with appropriate care and rigor, rather than which ones are done by phone and which online.” [HuffPost]

FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

Adam Enders and Steven Smallpage think racial bias is key in predicting support for Donald Trump. [WashPost]

-Stuart Rothenberg looks at 1964 for clues to the GOP's fate in 2016. [Rothenberg & Gonzales]

-Philip Bump notes that a lot of Americans were too young to remember the Clinton administration's scandals. [WashPost]

-Amy Walter explains why Trump's primary victory may not translate to a winning coalition in November.. [Cook Political Report]

-Jeffrey Jones highlights five major moral issues that U.S. religious groups disagree on. [Gallup]

-More than half of older Americans plan to dip into Social Security before they retire. [AP]

-Most Americans get some of their news from social media. [Pew]