If Colorado's Popular Support Is For Sanders, Would Those Voters Back A Clinton Candidacy?

Apr 18, 2016

Bernie Sanders will be assured the majority of Colorado's delegates at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Hillary Clinton though, still has momentum in the state with the support of super delegates, like Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. The support of party insiders means Clinton will likely have 37 delegates from the state versus Sanders' 41.

Which still makes it an open question for Colorado: If the state is pulling for Bernie Sanders, but the super delegates lean for Clinton, will voters opt to support Clinton if she's the nominee?

Three thousand delegates braved heavy snow, gathering inside The Ranch auditorium in Loveland, Colorado, for the Democratic State Convention. Many of them were there to cheer for Sanders, at times drowning out the Clinton faithful.

Leading nationally with delegates, many pundits expect Hillary Clinton will be the Democrats' presidential candidate. That tone reverberated in Colorado, with party leaders calling for unity. However, many Sanders supporters said it's too early for that.

"If we want to see democracy happen in this country, we have to create a space for all people's voices instead of just those people who run the corporations and have the power to create environmental destruction across the world," said 26-year-old Colin Hughes of Durango.

Michael Chaffee of Silt and his wife both support Hillary Clinton. He thinks she's by far the most qualified and it's time for a woman to be in the White House.
Credit Bente Birkeland / RMCR

And if Clinton becomes the party's nominee at the July convention?

"I think there will be a serious loss of engagement and I hope it won't be bad enough that we could lose an election to a Republican," Hughes said.

For Joseph Thomas, a geology student at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Clinton is too beholden to corporate interests and not strong enough on climate change. He wants Sanders to win the nomination and probably won't back Clinton if she's the nominee.

"I think that the rhetoric from the Clinton campaign is very derogatory; it's kind of like, 'you don't know what you're talking about. You're voting for someone who is unrealistic, for someone who they don't know the facts about.' And as a science major, someone who I consider to be well-informed, it's just very demeaning."

Some Clinton supporters agree the tone hasn't always been inclusive.

Kate Bishop of Carbondale (left) said she probably won't vote for Hillary Clinton, even if she is the nominee. Bishop is a triathlete and her trainer and coach, Judy Heynes of Glenwood Springs, hopes the party will unify behind Clinton.
Credit Bente Birkeland / RMCR

"Sometimes we've done that," said Judy Heynes, a personal trainer and coach from Glenwood Springs. "That's a fault that some of the older voters have, but gosh I used to hear that when I was 18 too."

Heynes doesn't think Sanders has accomplished much in office and she likes Clinton's years of experience.

"I do want someone who has been able to push hard and has been tough and battle hardened by years of attacks. And the second thing, I believe that Hillary's reputation was smeared by Republicans years ago, so that even Democrats or Bernie Sanders supporters are believing old stuff."

Michael Chafee, a Clinton backer from Silt on the state's Western Slope, thinks she is "more qualified to be president than any person on Earth right now."

"We need a woman in the White House for once to see how that works and she's the person I feel can do the job," Chafee said.

Many at the Loveland convention recalled 2008, when Clinton's hopes were dashed by then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and his message of change. They said Clinton's time to take the White House has finally arrived. But others, like Meredith Jordan of Fort Collins, who became a Democrat because of Sanders, said that time has passed.

"I don't buy her progressive change in her rhetoric over this campaign for a second," Jordan said. "I think she was bought by Wall Street. She's bought by all of the bigwig lobbyists, and I will never vote for her."