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Senator Sanders and His Supporters Are Dividing Democrats and Will Be a Drag On Down Ballot Races

February 26, 2020

NEW YORK — Senator Bernie Sanders’ attacks on the Democratic Party, his history of slow walking his support for the nominee, and his campaign’s divisive rhetoric could put the party at risk of losing not only the presidential race in November, but down ballot gains as well.

A new poll conducted by the Bloomberg campaign shows Sen. Sanders’ nomination could put vulnerable House Democrats at risk in more than 40 battleground House districts currently held by Democrats. The poll also found that Sanders is less popular than Trump, and loses support when hit for holding socialist positions.

What’s more, in addition to attacking the Democratic Party, Sen. Sanders has repeatedly failed to denounce hateful and divisive rhetoric by his supporters and even his senior campaign staff online and on TV. In recent weeks, this dangerous rhetoric has escalated to attacks at Mike Bloomberg 2020 field offices with graffiti that mirrors the Trump-like rhetoric the Sanders campaign has become so accustomed to using.

This is nothing new. In 2016, Sen. Sanders repeatedly refused to support Hillary Clinton (see here or here or here) until right before the Democratic Convention. He also peddled the same lies the Trump campaign was using against her. At a time when he could have urged his voters to embrace party unity to win the election and prevent Donald Trump from winning the presidency, Sen. Sanders did not — and he’s not doing it now. Sen. Sanders and his supporters have used their social media platforms to sow division within the Democratic party by launching personal attacks at candidates or those who disagree with them. A couple of examples are here, and here.

More examples include:

  • Progressive activists who declined to support Sen. Sanders now travel with private security after facing online harassment;
  • Several feminist writers have received death threats;
  • A state party chairwoman was forced to change her phone number;
  • A lawyer saw her business rating decline after engaging with Sanders supporters;
  • Ady Barkan, an activist with A.L.S., had some Sanders supporters accusing him of “lacking decision-making facilities due to his illness” when he endorsed Senator Warren;
  • Fred Guttenberg, the father of a victim from the Parkland shooting, was targeted after he criticized Senator Sanders’s statements about gun violence.
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