With just over a month to go until the final Democratic primary of the 2016 Presidential election, can Bernie catch up to Hillary’s delegate lead in time? Hot off the heels of Ted Cruz suspending his Presidential campaign following Donald Trump’s resounding victory in Indiana on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders was announced as the victor on the Democratic side, scooping a +5 point victory over Hillary Clinton.
But, although the win was an upset to the Clinton campaign – especially after weeks of Clinton polling +6 above Sanders – it was by such a narrow margin (52.7 to 47.3%) that Clinton’s pledged delegate lead still remains a steep uphill climb for the Sanders campaign, ahead of July’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Following Bernie’s defeat to Hillary in the tiny territory of Guam on May 7th, only 10 primaries remain in the Democratic nomination race. Time is running out for Sanders to close the widening gap of Clinton’s pledged delegates. Indiana knocked Clinton off course, but the primary was not a winner-takes-all contest; the 83 delegates will be split accordingly and Clinton’s lead of 290 may remain still out of reach for the Senator from Vermont.
The above chart shows the current state of the race, pledged delegates are attributed due to the state primary results, whereas the 719 Super delegates include; 438 elected members of the Democratic National Committee, 20 distinguished leaders, 193 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, 47 Democratic members of the US Senate and 21 Democratic governors. To put this into context, Clinton currently has the vote of 498 Superdelegates, whereas Sanders has just 41. Superdelegates can change their vote any time in the lead up to July’s Democratic National Convention, but do not have to vote in tandem with the popular vote.
Sanders seems to remain unnerved by the challenge he faces in order to gain the nomination however – recent announcements point towards a contested convention as his campaign will take the fight until the last vote has been cast in the final primary; Washington D.C. on June 14th. But it’s not only Clinton’s lead that stands in his way. Sanders typically does well in open primaries – see Minnesota (Sanders won 61.7% of the vote) and Idaho (Sanders won 78.04%) – but with North Dakota and Montana (18 and 21 delegates respectively) the last states with open primaries, the game may be over.
A recent MSNBC poll concluded however, that 57% of Democrats want Bernie to stay in the race, with this number rising to 89% of Sanders supporters voting for him to keep going in a race that has not been without its controversies; see the New York primary in which Democratic voters were removed from the electoral roll and an estimated 3 million New Yorkers were unable to vote in the state’s closed primary; Independent or unaffiliated voters had to register a party preference by October 9th 2015 in order to be allowed to take part. So far, 2 electoral officials have been suspended since the April 19th primary, with an investigatory audit still in progress, following huge public outcry and backlash in the media around the world.
The Californian primary – the largest in the Democratic nomination process – is one of six states holding a Democratic primary on June 7th, alongside North Dakota, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota and New Mexico. With 475 delegates to fight for, both Clinton and Sanders have been aggressively canvassing and opening campaign HQs across the Golden State. Politico also recently broke the news that the state of California had recently added 200,000 new voters since Spring, and with simple online voter registration remaining open until the 23rd May, both Sanders and Clinton can drive this number up even more. As the polls stand, Clinton is currently an average of +9.7 points above the Sanders campaign in California, but Bernie has come back from worse; the recent surpise win in Michigan, in which Sanders defied polls stating a +20 point lead to Clinton, to secure 49.8% of the vote.
But with Donald Trump now the presumptive Republican candidate, will Sanders be able to reach out and appeal to disaffected Independent and Republican voters who do not buy into the Trump campaign? Or will these voters be more likely to swing towards Hillary Clinton instead? In the remaining primaries, Clinton no longer has such a large name-recognition advantage as she had over Sanders a year ago today, and with a national polling average of just +5.8 points above Sanders, the fight for the Democratic nomination is still wide open.
The movement that Bernie has created will be very unlikely dissipate with a failure to win the Democratic ticket; former Sanders staffers have already created a new PAC named Brand New Congress, to fight for more progressive candidates in the upcoming Mid Term Congressional elections.
It’s clear to identify that the Sanders campaign has ignited hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country; whether or not this translates to enough delegates for Bernie to overtake Hillary will become clear over the next 4 weeks.