With Bernie Sanders’ ‘Super Saturday’ win of Kansas and Nebraska – by wide margins in both states – it was the state of Louisiana that went to the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton.
Following a drubbing of Sanders at Super Tuesday on March 2nd, in which 7 states – this year predominantly Southern states and those in solid Clinton territory – went to Hillary, Bernie was left struggling a little, with wins in his home state of Vermont, as well as Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma. In the following days, many mainstream media outlets, such as Politico amongst others, asked if or rather, when, Bernie’s race would be over.
But the Vermont Senator’s track record to overcome adversity in political campaigning is no new concept, look to his rising star on the road from Congressman to Senator in Burlington, VT alone. And now the Democratic nomination? It was always going to be a huge struggle, the ultimate prize, to secure the establishment vote in time for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on 25th July, especially against a political heavyweight such as Hillary Clinton.
But, all said and done, the innate ability to bounce back over and again does not only sit with Clinton, Sanders’ resilience is also well known – especially considering his campaign’s considerable financial backing; the Sanders campaign has amassed nearly 5 million individual contributions since its inception, with an average donation of $27, compared to 56% of Clinton’s donations sitting at the maximum $2,549 threshold, not to mention receiving highly-publicised campaign contributions from Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, amounting to over $2.4m over her political career. In February 2016, Sanders raised $42m to Clinton’s $30m – a spectacular feat.
As the road ahead moves the campaign trail away from the South and into territories such as Michigan, Florida and Ohio, the uphill climb for Sanders may become ever higher; Michigan, a relatively big fish, coming in with 130 delegates to distribute, has recently polled Clinton with a big lead over Sanders, ahead of the 8th March vote. Ohio, however, with the state’s primary coming up on 15th March, is slightly more up for grabs. If Sanders can, over the next 10 days, strip away Clinton’s current +10 lead and secure the majority of Ohio’s 143 delegates, this could bring his numbers far more in line with Clinton’s delegate count.
The race is far from over. Sanders and his devastatingly simple, overarching campaign message continues to resonate with hundreds of thousands of citizens around the US. Shortly after the mainstream media declared the Sanders insurgence dead in the water, Bernie’s speech in Michigan filled a several-thousand seater stadium as people turned out to hear what he had to say. What happens in the next few months is unknown, but regardless of whether Sanders win the nomination or not, a movement has been ignited; from the banking industry and the need for tighter regulation, to student debt, and the state of the US healthcare system, Sanders has pulled Clinton to the left on countless issues over the last 12 months. Sanders could easily form a working coalition to take on Wall Street and income inequality with Democratic Senator, Elizabeth Warren – if he does not receive the nomination – to create a powerful relationship to bring the banks and financial industry back into more serious regulation.
But as far as endorsements go, Sanders has raked in a bumper crop over the last few months. Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaiian Democratic Senator shocked the political sphere when she resigned her position as Vice Chair of the DNC, under the controversial Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, to endorse Bernie Sanders; she cites his war voting record, his foresight and judgement over Hillary Clinton’s ‘interventionist wars of regime change’ as the main reason for her resignation and subsequent endorsement. Sanders has also received banking from Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of Labour (1993-97), Robert Reich in February 2016, in a major coup against the Clinton campaign. It is safe to say that Sanders is far removed from his former title as political outsider in the Democratic race, and his political and fundraising clout have allowed him to make serious tracks ahead the Clinton campaign prior to the Super Tuesday loss of 7 states to his opponent.
Sanders has vowed to remain in the race until all states have voted, and with the economic capital to his advantage, is seems unlikely that he will renege on that promise. Between now and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, what remains to be seen is just how the Clinton campaign will treat Sanders in an attempt to secure his endorsement.
Following the vote in Michigan on the 8th March, the next fortnight will either make or break Sanders’ viability as a serious contender to stop Clinton securing the nomination.
If Bernie cannot break through in Michigan and Ohio, he will face an unsurpassable challenge to take on Hillary in the road ahead, and thus the cogs of declaring defeat may well begin to turn, in what has otherwise been a simply groundbreaking campaign.