Bernie Sanders is by far the most electable candidate for a general election, at least in terms of those currently running with any chance of winning (Governor Kasich likely would do well in a typical election). But this isn’t a typical election year with the likes of Donald J Drumpf a billionaire real estate investor and Senator Bernie Sanders an independent Senator from Vermont who calls himself a democratic socialist.
There are a few data points we can use to talk about electability and those include favorability ratings, general election match-ups, support among independents who make up about 42% of registered voters double the amount of republicans/democrats, support among young people, enthusiasm, whether voter turnout is up or down, how swing states have been voting etc.
Favorability ratings are a decent indicator of a candidate’s chances in a general election, and the only 2 candidates with positive favorability ratings are Governor John Kasich (who stands a close to zero percent chance of winning the gop nomination) and Senator Bernie Sanders (also a long shot). A Donald J Drumpf and Secretary Clinton matchup will be between 2 of the most hated people in the country. There is a good chance republicans will show up in droves to support the neo-fascist Drumpf as there is a considerable amount of enthusiasm for his campaign (whether there should be or not is another story). There is also a decent chance republicans will show up in equal numbers to vote against Secretary Clinton. This is a perfect storm for a campaign plagued with a complete lack of enthusiasm fueled mostly by large donors who is now even being out-raised and out-spent by her opponent (unless you count superpac spending, Source: FEC).
In terms of general election match-ups Senator Sanders consistently polls better against republicans than Secretary Clinton according to HuffPost Pollster and RealClearPolitics averages nationally. The deep red state of Utah would prefer Sanders over Trump by larger margins than Sec Clinton. While this poll may be an outlier please note this is the case in virtually every other poll both in swing states, red states and blue states. In the swing states that have voted in the primary so far Sen Sanders has won New Hampshire, Colorado and Minnesota all by large margins in addition to Michigan. Iowa and Missouri were virtual ties and Nevada was a close loss. Outside of the South, states that are almost guaranteed not to vote for either democratic candidate, Sec Clinton only won 1 state – Ohio – by more than a few points. This was a disappointing loss however keep in mind many democrats among both candidates supporters voted in the republican primary for Governor Kasich as an anti-Trump vote.
Independents in states that have voted already have overwhelmingly gone to both Sen Sanders and Donald J Drumpf. Registered independents make up ~42% of all voters, an extremely important voting block for the general election. In Michigan, 71% of independent voters who cast ballots in the democratic primary voted for Sen Sanders. That increases to 73% of independents in New Hampshire and up to a whopping 92% of independents in Vermont – the people who know Bernie best. If we look at those same polls and young people we find that overwhelmingly those under 45 support Senator Sanders. Older democrats will show up and vote for whoever the party nominates, however these young people and independents simply will not, a hard reality democratic partisans will have to come to if they want to stump Donald J Drumpf.