Could Sanders Beat Trump More Easily Than Hillary?

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now set as the presumptive nominees for the Democratic and Republican parties respectively, and the shape is the general election is becoming clearer every day as more data pours in. However, not all of that data is good for the nominees — in fact, new polling data released Tuesday morning by NBC brings bad news for both Trump and Clinton. In a general election matchup with Clinton, Trump ends up a loser, but Clinton still can't kick the challenge of Bernie Sanders, who defeats Trump by a much stronger, more secure margin.

Among registered voters, Sanders beat Trump in a general election matchup by a whopping 13 point margin, while a Clinton vs. Trump face off only had Clinton eking out a victory by four points. Another important distinction between the two hypothetical match-ups is turnout — in the Sanders/Trump election, 82 percent of registered Independent voters picked one candidate or the other, while only 76 percent of respondents elected to vote in the Clinton/Trump showdown.

The results suggests that voter turnout could be low in a Clinton/Trump election because people want to avoid choosing between what they see as two equally undesirable candidates. That's a huge problem for the Democrats, who typically do better in elections with high turnout.

The survey reinforced Sanders' popularity among the millennial cohort as well. About 30 percent of self-identified Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 said they would vote for Sanders over Trump, while only 18 percent they would vote for Clinton over Trump. This theoretically suggests that either Democrat should not have too much trouble winning the election, since a sizable portion of the Republican base seems dead set against voting for Trump.

Yet, the survey did not measure the opposite metric — whether any Democrats or Democrat leaners would change their vote to Trump in the event of either of these general elections — so it's difficult to say if the shift in Republican voters would be impactful or simply neutralized by an equal shift in Democratic voters.

Each candidate has their die-hard fans, and the real challenge in this election will be the swing voters. These results aren't exactly groundbreaking (Sanders has had consistently better margins over Clinton in a general election matchup versus Trump for several months), but they carry a little more weight now that Trump is the presumptive nominee. The reality of the upcoming election is becoming clearer every day, and for those who are invested in keeping Trump out of the White House, it may be a good idea to look a little more seriously into this data.