This bad news might be best explained by the Democrats’ even more lopsided answer to the big “electability” question. Unfortunately for Sanders, 38% more Democrats think Clinton “would have a good chance of defeating the Republican nominee” than would Sanders (87% to 49%).
The good news is what the pollsters actually demonstrate to be true about electability by direct match-ups of the two Democrats against those four Republican contenders who have more than single digit support. Their findings: “Sanders does just as well [as Clinton against Rubio], or even better, against [the other] top Republicans [Trump, Carson,and Cruz].” Against each of the latter three, Sanders’ winning margin exceeds Clinton’s by 2%, 3% and 5% respectively.
It appears that democratic voters are not just misinformed, but grossly misinformed, about whether Clinton or Sanders would do better against Republicans. Comparing the margin of support for Clinton over Sanders (30%) with the even larger 38% margin of polled Democrats who erroneously rank Clinton as a more electable candidate than Sanders suggests the possibility that their grossly erroneous belief may well account for much of their expressed preference for Clinton.
Even if not all Clinton supporters are using electability as their main criterion for preferring her in opinion polls, it would be useful for these grossly misled Democrats when casting their primary vote to consider the reason why Sanders’ outperforms Clinton against Republicans. They should remember that it is independent voters, not party loyalists, who generally determine the outcome of typically close general elections. If Democrats really want to lose the 2016 election to a Republican they should by all means choose a candidate that Independents reject. Clinton is just the candidate for that job.