The state of the Democrat race

April 7, 2016 6:02 am

Alice Attebery, of Laramie, waits in the aisle to help people to their seats for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Photo / AP

So has Bernie Sanders’ win in Wisconsin over Hillary Clinton changed the Democratic presidential race at all?
How many delegates did Sanders gain?
Sanders netted just 10 delegates from winning Wisconsin. In all, Sanders won 48 delegates to Clinton’s 38 yesterday.
How many states has he won?
Sanders now has won 15 states compared to 18 for Clinton, including six of the past seven states. The Washington Post estimates Clinton has won about 2.4 million more votes than Sanders.
So has the overall race become closer?
Not really. Pundits look at the maths (delegates) and momentum (wins). In delegates, Sanders still trails Clinton by a large margin. In 2008 Clinton beat Barack Obama in a majority of states in the final months of the primaries yet Obama still won. Sanders does gain some momentum by winning states and he has chipped away at her one-time lead of more than 300 pledged delegates. But he isn’t showing signs of appealing more to African Americans and Hispanics.

What is the bottom line?
The Washington Post categorises Sanders’ bit to catch Clinton as “dogged but improbable”.
Because the Democrats reward delegates proportionally, it is hard for a candidate to catch up and overtake once a rival has gained a lead.
So what is Clinton’s lead?
Based on primaries and caucuses alone, Clinton now has 1280 delegates while Sanders has 1030. Including superdelegates, or party officials who can back any candidate, Clinton holds a more substantial lead – 1749 to Sanders’ 1061. It takes 2383 to win. At this time in 2008, Obama’s pledged-delegate lead over Clinton fluctuated between 120 and 140 delegates – about half of the margin by which Clinton now leads Sanders. And that doesn’t include superdelegates.
Is it likely many superdelegates would switch?
No. Clinton has a lead in delegates and is the major figure in her party besides Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden. Sanders has taken an independent approach to politics for years. She draws the majority of support from African Americans and Hispanics – two key parts of the Democratic coalition. If she’s winning overall delegates they will continue to back the winner.
Is all lost for Sanders?
No. He continues to win states with high white populations. He does well in caucuses, with young voters and independents. He is still drawing plenty of funds to keep going. He is able to keep pushing his messages while he is in the race. The Sanders campaign has started making the case to superdelegates that they should side with him because he is more electable than Clinton against Republican front-runner Donald Trump – a view the Clinton camp disputes.
What is his dream scenario?
If Sanders catches Clinton – or gets close – both candidates would enter the party’s convention in July without enough pledged delegates to claim the nomination. That would force the superdelegates to choose the nominee.
Why did he do well in Wisconsin?
it is a state with a celebrated tradition of progressive activism – and a primary open to independent voters, a bedrock Sanders constituency. Wisconsin was viewed as difficult terrain for Clinton. In 2008, the state’s Democratic electorate was 87 per cent white – voters whom Sanders has consistently won. Its industrial landscape, large bloc of independent voters and substantial working class also were seen as fertile ground for Sanders’s message of rethinking trade policy.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accompanied by Mayor Jim Kenney, left,  in Philadelphia. Photo / APDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accompanied by Mayor Jim Kenney, left, in Philadelphia. Photo / AP

What is next?
Wyoming on Sunday, New York on April 20. On RealClearPolitics.com there are no recent polls on Wyoming and Clinton is ahead in New York. Wyoming is a caucus contest which should suit Sanders but only 14 delegates are in play.
Are there dangers for Clinton?
Despite a sizable delegate lead, the stakes are high for Clinton in New York, the state she represented for eight years in the Senate and where 247 delegates will be at stake. A loss there would underscore her weaknesses within her own party, particularly with younger voters. Sanders grew up in New York.
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