PHILADELPHIA — "Look, the division here really is not a problem," former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was telling me — right as Green Party candidate Jill Stein marched past him with a group of about 50 Bernie Sanders supporters.
Stein had somehow made her way into the Democratic National Convention and led dozens of angry Sanders delegates in a walkout after Hillary Clinton officially became the nominee early Tuesday evening.
Not all of Sanders's supporters were having it. Ray McKinnon, 35, a Sanders delegate from North Carolina, began yelling at Stein when he saw her, telling her to "get out" and arguing that she had no place within the convention hall.
"For her to come in here, it’s just ridiculous; I can’t stand it," McKinnon told me afterward. "It was the height of disrespect."
But other Sanders delegates were pleased to see Stein. "Bernie has gotten Stockholm syndrome — he’s become a victim to his captors," said delegate David Bright, 68, of Dixon, Maine. "If Clinton can’t hold her own against Stein, that’s her problem."
This was the internal divide that’s been endlessly discussed in Philadelphia: There’s a sharp split between Sanders allies who are ready to follow him into the Democratic Party and a small but vocal minority who view a party led by Clinton as not worth supporting at all.
The "Bernie or Bust" left gets a chance to show its strength
Up until tonight, it was still at least theoretically possible to maintain — as many of the Sanders delegates and supporters I’ve interviewed have — that Sanders still had the remotest of chances to secure the nomination. But with that option sealed off to even Sanders's most wide-eyed supporters on Tuesday, the two groups — long at odds rhetorically and ideologically — had their first physical separation in real time.
As Vox’s Matt Yglesias pointed out today, a big chunk of Sanders's delegation comes from the activist wing of the left that’s not particularly interested in working within the Democratic Party. They go with what they know, and what they know are protest tactics, Yglesias argued.
I followed the protesters around outside the convention hall on Tuesday, and, like most of the press corps, didn’t find too much there going on. About 100 members of the Bernie or Bust crowd worked their way into the media pavilion. A few dozen more circled outside of it, forming a semicircle. A quick headcount confirmed what I’d suspected: There couldn’t have been 30 more protesters than the combined number of reporters and police.
But closer to 10:30 pm, Politico reported that protests of up to 1,000 people, including Sanders supporters and Stein herself, had emerged a little further away from the convention itself.
A recent Pew poll suggests that Sanders supporters, when asked if they had to choose between Clinton and Trump, will go for Clinton by 90 percent. But that remaining 10 percent appeared to make their break on Tuesday night, showing that they know how to get their message out.