Bernie Sanders had a grand day in the caucuses in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii. The left-wing hero of progressive politics ran up amazingly impressive numbers in all 3 states. The foregone conclusion of Hillary prevailing is suddenly replaced by debates about a Bernie Sanders path to victory. An 69,8%-30,0% win in Hawaii. Washington voted for The Bern at a 72,7% to 27,1% ratio. Finally the biggest win of the night came in the Alaska Caucus where Bernie Sanders grabbed 81,6% to Hillary Clintons 18,4%.
In terms of delegates Bernie Sanders netted an approximate 56 delegates to Hillary Clintons 20. A commanding win of proportions large enough to catch up with Hillary Clinton were it repeated in all coming states.
The state of the Democratic Race
In terms of delegates the state of the democratic race obviously narrowed a bit with the huge Bernie Sanders wins in Hawaii, Washington and Alaska. Hillary Clinton has won 1251 delegates whilst Bernie Sanders reached 1012 delegates with this weekends additions. If we include the already pledged superdelegates the totals are 1733 for Hillary Clinton and 1039 for Bernie Sanders.
It is worth cautioning a bit about the numbers including superdelegates. First of all plenty of superdelegates have not yet pledged and as such a shadow pool of delegates exist. Further, should Bernie Sanders actually overtake Hillary Clinton in won delegates it is very likely that some of the pledged delegates will simply change their allegiance to Sanders as happened in 2008 when Hillary had a similar lead in superdelegates until Barack Obama overtook her at the ballot boxes, thus picking up the superdelegates as well.
Bernie Sanders – The Comeback Kid ?
A comeback kid? Well yes and no. He won big. Impressively! But he was in fact favored to win and had been all along. Obviously 3 out of 3 wins will energize his supporters, bring in fresh donations and add some positive news cycles to an already well spinning campaign. In reality though we are talking a “comeback” that added maybe 10 or 15 more delegates than expected in must-win states.
Nothing changes the media narrative like a fresh landslide victory. Bernie Sanders got 3. We are suddenly examining the Bernie Sanders path to victory. It was not really a comeback though, given he performed brilliantly exactly where he was supposed to. His campaign in fact has nothing to comeback from. It has outperformed expectations massively. It rakes in unbelievable amounts of small donor contributions. It drums up enthusiasm in young voter like never (well save Obama) before. And in pledged delegates the Bernie Sanders campaign has managed to stay within somewhat realistic striking distance of Hillary Clinton all along. A Hillary Clinton who was declared ready for coronation even before any voting began given the opposition, primarily Sanders, she faced.
Bernie Sanders Path To Victory
Given all the positives and sweeping victories, does Bernie Sanders have a path to victory ? Indeed he does. But it is as narrow as ever. The road ahead is severely bumpy in terms of the realistic delegate catches for Bernie Sanders. The trouble is clearly visible in the Democratic primary calendar:
|Democratic Primary Calendar|
|Apr 5||Wisconsin||86||10||96||Open primary|
|Apr 9||Wyoming||14||4||18||Closed caucus|
|Apr 19||New York||247||44||291||Closed primary|
|Apr 26||Connecticut||55||16||71||Closed primary|
|Rhode Island||24||9||33||Semi-closed primary|
|May 3||Indiana||83||9||92||Open primary|
|May 7||Guam||7||5||12||Closed caucus|
|May 10||West Virginia||29||8||37||Semi-closed primary|
|May 17||Kentucky||55||5||60||Closed primary|
|Jun 4||Virgin Islands||7||5||12||Closed caucus|
|Jun 5||Puerto Rico||60||7||67||Closed caucus|
|Jun 7||California||475||73||548||Semi-closed primary|
|New Jersey||126||16||142||Semi-closed primary|
|New Mexico||34||9||43||Closed primary|
|North Dakota||18||5||23||Open primary|
|South Dakota||20||5||25||Semi-open primary|
|Jun 14||District of Columbia||20||26||46||Closed primary|
Bernie Sanders will likely win several of these contests. Plenty of the caucuses especially are tailored to his strengths. However, Bernie Sanders is not just in need of symbolic wins and performances spinnable as momentum. He needs to make up significantly more than the 200 delegate Hillary Clinton lead in order to construct a narrative going:
Bernie Sanders leads the delegate count now. Handing it to Hillary Clinton by use of superdelegates would be undemocratic and wrong.
To do that he needs to catch, pass and continually outdo her. Is that possible? Well there are plenty of delegates still to be awarded and as such of course it is. But in realistic terms the answer is no. Primaries in delegate rich states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and California are on the menu. It is not a tasty one for Sanders. He is behind in all polls in these states whilst what he needs is something like 25% percent wins across the board. Without the collapses he experienced in southern states, letting Hillary drive up her lead.
Making up deficits is harder in the Democratic race as there are no winner-take-all contests. Deficits are made up by big wins awarding huge proportional parts of the states delegates. Sanders has momentum and could do it in quite a few places, but so far we have no indications that he is even within reach of a win in the big states that really matter.
Bernie Sanders path to victory ? It exists. But it still requires a serious game changer making him surge far ahead in current Hillary Clinton firewall states.
Democratic Primary Race Facts
The democratic candidates compete for a total of 4,051 pledged delegates primarily awarded proportionally on a per state basis. On top of that 721 individuals are appointed superdelegates by the DNC.
You can follow the latest American Opinion polls here to see if the Bernie Sanders momentum starts to manifest in crucial upcoming races.
The 3 latest contests were all caucuses:
Alaska Democratic Caucus
Hawaii Democratic Caucus
Washington Democratic Caucus