Democrats are not, reportedly, the only ones worried the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a clear path to victory in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. So-called “Never Trumpers” have been peppering New Hampshire Republicans with phone calls urging them to cross party lines and cast a vote against the Vermont socialist on Tuesday.
Hot Air reports that “conservative-leaning independent” voters in New Hampshire got phone calls over the weekend suggesting that “those of you who normally vote in the GOP primary should consider switching sides and voting in the Democratic nomination race.”
The goal: propel a “responsible and electable” candidate, presumably former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, into the winner’s circle, breaking Sanders’ “winning” streak and interrupting his path to victory.
The New Hampshire Journal reports that founder of the now-defunct Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, was behind the effort to identify and motivate independent voters to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary Tuesday — an effort, the New Hampshire Journal reports, “which involves tens of thousands of New Hampshire voter contacts and a six-figure budget.”
“I’m happy to have joined with some others to help remind New Hampshire independents, who might be accustomed to voting in the Republican primary, that this year, they may be able to make more of a difference by voting for a responsible and electable candidate in the Democratic primary,” Kristol told the outlet.
“The calls don’t mention any candidates by name or endorse any specific Democrats, instead making a case for supporting centrists in the all-important First in the Nation primary, as opposed to self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders,” the Journal says.
The so-called Never Trumpers are looking to avoid a matchup between Sanders and President Donald Trump — a matchup that favors Trump, by all accounts, particularly in battleground states where Trump’s message of economic populism resonates, and where the economy appears to be chugging along.
Kristol and others had thrown their support behind insurgent candidates for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, but former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh — himself once one of Trump’s biggest supporters — dropped out of the race last week. Former libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld remains in the race, but support for Weld barely registered in Iowa, and Trump leads Weld by around 80 points in New Hampshire primary polls.
As for Bernie Sanders, it may be too little too late to derail his campaign. Although Sanders didn’t technically “win” Iowa’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention, he did, by all accounts, win the popular vote, besting former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg by just 0.1% of the vote — enough that Sanders has called for a “recanvass” of some of the state’s key precincts.
There’s also an argument to be made that Democrats risk trouble by denying Sanders what is rightfully his. Sanders may poll badly against Trump but, increasingly, so do former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the two candidates most often mentioned in conversations about “electability.” Buttigieg stands at just 14% nationally — not much better than Biden or Warren.