Young, white voters are ready to make Bernie Sanders their used car salesman-in-chief

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Which of the remaining presidential candidates would young people rather be trapped in an elevator with? Bernie Sanders. Have as their boss? The senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. DJ their wedding? The man himself, Bernard "Bernie" Sanders.

Those are the results of the latest Fusion 2016 poll, a survey of 1,000 people aged 18 to 35 on a series of hypothetical "Who'd you rather?" scenarios ranging from a Vegas trip to playing Call of Duty to running the country.

Which of the three remaining presidential candidates prevailed in each scenario—Sanders, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump—reinforces what we've already learned in this neverending slog of an election: Younger white voters are in the bag for Sanders—and they really don't want Hillary Clinton to run the country.


In fact, Clinton was only favored in one (rude) question: "Who'd you rather have style your hair?" (She won 53% to Sanders' 21% and Trump's 17%.) Respondents in our poll don't prefer going to Vegas with her or buying a used car from her or letting her manage their email server; they don't want to play Call of Duty with her or get stuck in an elevator with her or have her DJ their wedding; they don't want her preparing their taxes, and they don't want to play poker with her.

And while she and her likely opponent in November are about even on the question of "Who'd you rather have run the country?" (Clinton 25% to Trump 22%), she is dwarfed by Sanders (43%).

Clinton's unpopularity looks even worse when you get into the granular details of the "run the country" question: 59% percent of young Republicans surveyed said they'd rather have Donald Trump run the country; of the 31% who chose someone else, 17% picked Sanders, compared with 14% for Clinton. Just 16% of young white people chose Clinton, and nonwhites younger than 26 chose Sanders over Clinton 57–26.

But the poll also highlights weak spots for Sanders: The older and less white and closer to the ideological center voters get, the less likely they are to want Sanders to run the country. Nonwhite, older young people (aged 25–35) favor Clinton 52–32.


Sanders did come out ahead in most of the questions posed to our young respondents.

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If they had it their way, Sanders would be president…and sell them a used car. Indeed, that 52% of respondents said they'd rather buy a used car from Sanders could—as our pollster puts it—reflect the "honesty and trustworthiness" of the candidate. (But given that those are sentiments not usually associated with used car salesmen, perhaps our voters are merely savvy shoppers who see Sanders as the most pliable in negotiations.)

And what of the underdog? Trump was the outsized favorite of survey respondents to go to Vegas with: Fifty-six percent said they'd rather go to Sin City with the Donald, compared with 21% for Sanders and 18% for Clinton. The other notable contest Trump won in our survey is whom respondents would rather play Call of Duty with, at 39% (Sanders came next at 31%; Clinton trailed at 22%).


That Trump handily won these two contests is fitting: After all, isn't becoming president just another low-stakes video game you only play to win?

Read the full analysis of the poll from Langer Research Associates.

More on our methodology:

This Fusion 2016 Issues Poll was conducted by landline and cell phone interviews May 4-17, 2016, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults age 18 to 35. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points for the full sample, including the survey’s design effect. This survey was produced for Fusion by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa., using its Millennial Omnibus survey. See methodological details here.


Aleksander Chan is Fusion's News Director.

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