With a couple of breaks and more fortunate timing, many of them believe, the rumpled socialist from Vermont really, truly could have been president.
“I think they should have put the damn emails out before the primaries were over,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, a union that campaigned heavily for Mr. Sanders. “Bernie could have won the election, and that’s the most irritating and painful thing. It would have made a world of difference.
“Now we are going to have a dynamic status quo,” Ms. DeMoro predicted. “It’s going to look like change. But it’s not change.”
Not all Sanders supporters believe an earlier release would have altered history. The emails — disseminated by WikiLeaks from the account of John D. Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, who has attributed the hack to Russian intelligence officials — have created a relatively modest headache for Mrs. Clinton as she nears Election Day, providing occasional fodder for Donald J. Trump as Democrats condemn the apparent foreign interference in an American election.
But the content of the messages, while a measure short of astonishing so far, almost certainly could have upended a primary campaign premised largely on Mrs. Clinton’s place in an increasingly progressive and populist Democratic Party.
In excerpts from paid speeches to financial institutions and corporate audiences, Mrs. Clinton embraced unfettered international trade and offered praise for a budget-balancing plan that would have required cuts to Social Security. She spoke of the need for “a public and a private position” on politically sensitive issues. And she allowed that her family’s growing wealth had left her “kind of far removed” from the experience of the middle class.
“I feel like I’m channeling Captain Renault from ‘Casablanca,’” said Jonathan Tasini, a former union leader who challenged Mrs. Clinton in her Senate primary in New York in 2006. “I’m shocked — shocked! — that Hillary Clinton has a close relationship with Wall Street.”
It is a familiar, if still painful, sensation for Sanders backers, even as most of his voters drift toward Mrs. Clinton, some more haltingly than others.
For at least a handful, the emails have especially rankled given the seeming free fall of Mr. Trump, which has bolstered their view that Mr. Sanders’s proudly left-wing politics would not have precluded victory in the general election.
On the heels of leaked emails over the summer from the Democratic National Committee, which suggested favoritism toward Mrs. Clinton among party leaders, and persistent complaints that Mr. Sanders’s bid was not taken seriously enough from the start, Sanders allies say the latest revelations have only heightened tensions that are likely to persist if Mrs. Clinton is elected. . .