While carefully designed surveys are useful as quantitative gauges of opinions, sometimes the views of individuals can shed light on more subtle undercurrents that surveys miss. Ryan Grim of The Intercept asked the readers of his newsletter who have switched allegiances to write and let him know why they did so. Grim has been writing positively about Sanders so one should factor that in in gauging his readership. He summarizes some of the responses he got.
Over the past week, I asked readers of my newsletter to write to me if they’ve switched allegiances throughout the primary. The newsletter is largely made up of people who subscribed to it between 2014 and 2017, with a huge spike during the heady resistance days after Trump’s election. It’s a pretty broad cross-section of progressive readers, roughly 135,000 in all, and, like all large email lists, it’s made up disproportionately of people over the age of 50 or 60. It is not, in other words, simply a hive of Sanders supporters, but over the year has popped with fans of Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Warren, and anyone else running in the primary. More than 100 people wrote back, and many of their responses — with typos fixed — are below.
This is by no means intended to be presented as a scientific sample or even to reflect any national trend. Instead, think of the notes as access to a focus group, or a window into how Democratic voters are thinking about their choice. The pattern that emerged most markedly in the responses, though, is around Sanders. For the past several years, it has been conventional wisdom that Sanders has “a ceiling” of support, above which he simply can’t go. But a significant number of the correspondents said that after previously supporting other candidates, they’re now shifting to Sanders, not because they’re necessarily thrilled by his candidacy, but because he has convinced them that he is indeed electable. That, or they want to align themselves with the energy behind him, even if they don’t understand it. There also seemed to be more openness to Mike Bloomberg’s candidacy than I would have expected. What follows are some of the responses. People who asked not to be named were granted the request, but all of the responses come from emails from newsletter readers, meaning they are can’t be frauds just posting for fun on social media.
The replies make for interesting reading. I have to admit I am puzzled by the number of people who are seriously considering supporting Michael Bloomberg or Tom Steyer.