The Sanders Coalition: More Rural and Blue Collar Than Expected

Steve Kornacki writes that the Sanders coalition isn’t just the collection of liberal millennials every assumes it is.

Sanders bested Clinton across virtually all regional and demographic boundaries in the Granite State, crushing her overall by 22 points. But he fared best with economically downscale voters and won over a number of blue-collar cities and towns that had been Clinton redoubts in her 2008 campaign. In so doing, Sanders essentially flipped the ’08 script, in which Clinton’s main challenger, Barack Obama, relied disproportionately on higher-income voters and those with college degrees.

For instance, among voters making less than $50,000, Sanders defeated Clinton by 33 points. By contrast, Clinton won those same voters by 15 points over Obama in ’08. Sanders’ margin was only half as big – 17 points – with voters making more than $50,000, a group that Obama actually won by 5 points. Similarly, Sanders rolled up a 36-point spread among voters without college degrees, while winning college-educated voters by only 13 points. In ’08, though, it was Clinton who won voters without college degrees by 8 points, with Obama taking college graduates by 5 points.

There’s also the geography of Sanders’ win. While he claimed almost every city and town in the New Hampshire, he didn’t fare much better than Obama in many of the state’s more upscale liberal areas. In Hanover, home of Dartmouth College, Sanders ran just 281 votes ahead of Clinton, a margin of 6.5 points. Eight years ago, Obama won that same town by 32 points, a plurality of more than 1,500 votes. In the coastal city of Portsmouth, another liberal enclave, Sanders performed only modestly better (a 12-point win) than Obama (6 points).

But it was a very different story in the state’s older, post-industrial cities and towns, where Sanders improved by leaps and bounds over Obama’s ’08 performance. Take Berlin, a struggling mill city in the North Country, where Obama actually ran third, behind John Edwards. Clinton was so strong in Berlin in ’08 that her vote total actually exceeded that of Obama’s and Edwards’ combined. But this time, she lost the city by 13 points to Sanders. Rochester, another blue-collar mill town, was another Clinton stronghold in ’08, where she ran up a 976-vote plurality over Obama – a 16-point margin. Sanders, though, won Rochester Tuesday by 21 points.


3 thoughts on “The Sanders Coalition: More Rural and Blue Collar Than Expected

  1. Given NH’s proximity to Vermont and hence more likely familiarity with Sanders in years past, I think we have to wait for other primary results to be at all sure of the picture you’re trying to draw from the data in the NH primary. Could be, and I wouldn’t be surprised but I don’t think you can show it from that particular primary (so the same would go for any picture drawn from that data). That said, I seem to have been reading for a long time now about Sanders’ support among blue collar people and only more recently about millennials. So I think the premise that “everybody assumes it is” is wrong, unless I simply never read the things I read.

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