How San Diego Feels About the Democratic Race

A History of Progress: Why San Diegans are Feeling the Bern



Slate

It’s primary season and the race for the nomination during the 2016 elections is in full swing. In a year in which many predicted a dynasty slug match between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, America has been shocked by the rise of outsider candidates who threaten to tear away at the tradition structure of the party establishment. Billionaire Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are fighting it out for the Republican nomination while Clinton is facing a real challenge in early races from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

California has long been a Democratic state so it should be no surprise when all polls point to the Democrats carrying the state once again when voters go to the polls to choose the next president on Nov. 8. But even though the former first lady and secretary of state Hilary Clinton are ahead in the polls in California -- the Field poll conducted between Dec. 16 and Jan. 3 has Clinton leading Sanders 46% to 35% with 18% undecided, San Diego is very solidly supporting Sanders’ campaign. A poll on Fox 5 about who was the winner in Dec. 19 Democratic Debate has Sanders winning heavily with nearly 1,800 votes to Clinton’s 1,500. There are a few key reasons for this support.

The first, perhaps the most obvious, reasons for Sanders support  in the city is a large number of colleges. San Diego was voted as the 8th best college town in the country by Newsweek.  Sanders’ ultra-liberal, perhaps even utopian, positions have struck a chord with many college students, some of whom will be voting for the first time. In Iowa, the Sanders campaign worked hard to turn out the college vote and among San Diego’s 250,000 college students, he may find a very welcoming voter bloc in the 18 to 22-year-old set. 

The second reason for Sanders appeal among San Diego residents is the reason why many people choose to live in the city: San Diego is a liberal, progressive place, with registered Democratic voters outnumbering Republicans by a small margin. While it may not be the liberal mecca like San Francisco or New York that become stigmatized by Republicans, the city has a long and impressive history of progressive thought.  Consider San Diego’s role in the Progressive Movement of the early 20th century that fought against the power of the big business, to being a place that drew people back to the urban core before gentrification was widespread, to being one of the first cities in the country to honor San Francisco Mayor Harvey Milk after he was assassinated. This type of city attracts a type of person; the kind of person who is willing to support a more liberal candidate like Sanders.mecca like San Francisco or New York that become stigmatized by Republicans, the city has a long and impressive history of progressive thought.  Consider San Diego’s role in the Progressive Movement of the early 20th century that fought against the power of the big business, to being a place that drew people back to the urban core before gentrification was widespread, to being one of the first cities in the country to honor San Francisco Mayor Harvey Milk after he was assassinated. This type of city attracts a type of person; the kind of person who is willing to support a more liberal candidate like Sanders.

The third reason why Sanders is blossoming in support is more of a fundamental movement  that’s expressing itself all across the country. Poll after poll shows that people are tired of the status quo. It’s the reason why rebel candidates Trump and Cruz are the neck and neck in the early races and it’s the same reason that Sanders is challenging the candidate that, a year ago, everyone assumed would be the nominee of the Democratic Party. It is in these types of environments, when the status quo continues to carry on in a way that is deemed unacceptable by the general public, that fringe candidates rise up and can have their voices heard and, in the case of Sanders, get wide support.

The campaign season is still in its early days, but 2016 may be one of the rare years when by the time the California primary rolls around in June, the races may still not be decided. If that’s the case, it will be truly fascinating to see whom San Diegans actually vote for.