The myth of the Bernie Bro: Bernie Sanders' supporters are more diverse than the prevailing narrative suggests

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders has often faced criticism for not doing enough to reach out to women and voters of colour, and the prevailing narrative is that his base is mostly white and male – a monolithic group often called Bernie Bros.
  • But recent polling on 2020 Democrats suggests Sen. Bernie Sanders appeals to a fairly wide, diverse audience.
  • The polling actually shows that minorities find Sanders more appealing than white voters, and also found a relatively even gender split in terms of how voters view the Vermont senator.

One of the prevailing narratives surrounding Sen. Bernie Sanders is that he doesn’t appeal to a broad group of voters, and that the majority of his supporters are young, white men often referred to as “Bernie Bros.”

There’s no doubt that Sanders struggled to win over certain cohorts of voters in 2016, and Sanders continues to face criticism that he has not done enough to reach out to people of colour.

But recent national polling from Morning Consult/Politico challenges the notion the Vermont senator’s base is homogeneous and that he only appeals to a particular demographic.

There’s not a stark difference in how men and women feel about Sanders running for president

There’s a fairly even gender split when it comes to how voters view Sanders.

Morning Consult asked poll participants if their state’s Democratic presidential primary or caucus was held today, would they vote for the senator. Roughly 32% of men and 31% of women said they would “definitely” vote for Sanders.

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Poll participants were also asked to point to one out of a number of statements that would best to describe how they feel about Sanders running for president. One option was “He is one of my top choices among the Democrats, and I would gladly support him in the primary.” Roughly 40% of men identified with this statement, as did approximately 37% of women.

Voters of colour are more likely to vote for Sanders and in some cases more enthused about him running than whites

Meanwhile, the poll also found that minority groups are even more enthusiastic about Sanders than white voters.

When asked the question on whether they’d vote for Sanders if the Democratic presidential primary or caucus was held today, 31% of those who identified as white said yes. Comparatively, there was a higher percentage of participants who identified as Hispanic (37%), African-American (32%), or “other” (33%) who said the same thing.

When poll participants were asked to point to the statement that best describes how they feel about Sanders, the disparity between white and Hispanic voters was particularly stark.

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Roughly 52% of poll participants who identified as Hispanic identified with the statement that Sanders is their “top choice” and they’d “gladly” vote for him. Meanwhile, 37% of participants who identified as white said the same thing, as did 37% of those who identified as African-American and 48% of those who identified as other.

This polling does not erase ongoing issues some groups have with Sanders’ rhetoric and policies on issues of race, which has been particularly notable in his refusal to explicitly endorse reparations with descendants of slaves.

Sanders on Friday was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America. But the group’s AfroSocialist and Socialists of Colour Caucus, which focuses on racial issues, urged the organisation to withhold backing the senator because of his position on reparations.

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