Bernie Sanders, the socialist independent from Vermont, continues to do well in states that are overwhelmingly white among liberals/progressives and young voters. But Democrat Hillary Clinton is maintaining the loyalty of core Democratic Party constituencies among minorities, women, and older voters. Minority Voters Push Hillary Clinton to Victories.
Despite all his years in Congress, Bernie Sanders has never run a national campaign until now. He has never developed the relationships, the networks of volunteers, or earned the loyalties that the Clintons have enjoyed over many years. This is an advantage not to be overlooked or discounted. It was forged by years of hard work.
The overwhelmingly white states are largely rural states with a small number of delegates. The delegate rich states have diverse minority populations loyal to the Clintons, and if Hillary keeps winning these states by huge margins, there is no path to victory for the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders. It is simply a matter of delegate math.
Nate Cohn of the New York Times‘ The Upshot is correct, Sanders Campaign Will Travel On, but Path to Victory Is All but Blocked:
Hillary Clinton’s landslide margins in the South and her competitiveness elsewhere translate to an overall lead of around 15 to 20 percentage points nationwide. Her support is anchored by a huge advantage among black voters, who represent nearly a quarter of Democratic voters and have offered her more than 80 percent of their votes — a tally rivaling or even exceeding the share won by Barack Obama in 2008.
Mr. Sanders, despite pockets of strength, has not fared well enough to overcome such a huge deficit among black voters.
Not even a few feel-good wins in states like Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma will change that. Mr. Sanders would have needed big wins in these states — by much more than 20 percentage points — to entertain the possibility of overcoming his enormous deficit in the South, where the majority of Democrats are African-American.
Mrs. Clinton is on track to win nearly 80 percent of the vote in Alabama, more than 70 percent in Georgia, and more than 60 percent in Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. Mr. Sanders cannot make up for routs in the South with slight wins in the North. He needs landslides to counter landslides; he doesn’t have them.
There are three times as many nonblack voters as black voters in the Democratic primary electorate. To cancel her strength, Mr. Sanders would need to win nonblack voters by about 20 percentage points, since Mrs. Clinton leads by more than 60 points among black voters.
Through the contests so far, Mr. Sanders has not posted dominating totals outside of his home state of Vermont and a few adjacent counties in western New Hampshire.
Elsewhere, Mr. Sanders fell far short of the targets needed. He lost Hispanic voters in Texas by 20 percentage points. He lost white voters in Virginia, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. He came very close but lost mostly white Iowa.
But perhaps most striking is that Mr. Sanders failed to win in Massachusetts — a notably liberal state next to Vermont with a relatively small black share of the vote. Massachusetts residents had the chance to see many of the ads aired by the Sanders campaign for New Hampshire, which is covered by the Boston media market. If Mr. Sanders can’t win big in a place like Massachusetts, it is hard to come up with many places where he can.
Mr. Sanders also hoped to fare well in Appalachia, where there’s a large number of working-class Democrats and few black voters. But the results in western Virginia, Tennessee, northern Georgia and Alabama all suggest that Mr. Sanders trails there as well.
* * *
Mrs. Clinton decisively won the handful of coal country counties in western Virginia that act as a leading indicator of the results in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
Mr. Sanders has big weaknesses among key blocs of nonblack voters: Hispanics; white voters in the South; affluent white voters; and older white voters. It would be very hard for Mr. Sanders to win nonblack voters by more than 20 points while facing resistance from any of these groups.
None of this means that the race ends quickly. Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally, so Mrs. Clinton would need time to clinch a majority of pledged delegates. Mr. Sanders has a loyal base of supporters who could easily fund an insurgent campaign well past the point when it is even plausible to suggest he could win the nomination.
But if the race continues as it has to date, Mr. Sanders will suffer serious losses over the next two weeks. Mrs. Clinton could approach or exceed 80 percent of the vote in Mississippi and Louisiana. She could win 60 percent of the vote in Michigan, a state where black voters represent an above-average share of the electorate. Mrs. Clinton would be poised for a clean and decisive sweep on March 15, when five big states with large numbers of black voters — Illinois, Missouri, Florida, North Carolina and Ohio — cast ballots.
Even then, Mrs. Clinton will not have a majority of pledged delegates. Only half will have been awarded. But Mr. Sanders would need to win by around 20 points from that point on to catch up.
The results tonight show that outcome is highly unlikely. There is no progressive majority for a “political revolution” in the Democratic Party without the support of black voters.
Jeff Stein at Vox.com says the Democratic nomination is now Hillary Clinton’s to lose. Bernie Sanders’s path to the nomination is getting very narrow:
Bernie Sanders still has time to mount an improbable comeback. But, barring any political earthquakes, Clinton’s sizable delegate lead and broad coalition make it difficult to imagine how Sanders can pull off an upset, according to close trackers of the race.
“Clinton has been the huge favorite this whole time and continues to be,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “I don’t see how Sanders catches up to her.”
On Super Tuesday, Clinton surged ahead of Sanders by the metric that matters most: delegates. She racked up 505 delegates in winning seven of 11 states, compared with the 334 delegates Sanders took in winning four states, according to an analysis by Richard Berg-Andersson, a researcher who tracks Democratic delegate math at the Green Papers. (Some districts remained too close to call as of Wednesday morning.)
“Clinton had the night she needed to have,” Berg-Andersson said. “She’s now well on her way to winning the nomination.”
Clinton now leads Sanders by around 200 pledged delegates — in large part because of her big wins across many Southern states on Tuesday.
It’s tough to see how Sanders closes that gap, even if he runs more or less evenly with her the rest of the race. That’s in part because the Democratic Party awards delegates proportionally, meaning candidates need to win the popular vote by big margins to make up a delegate deficit.
Beyond the delegate math, Super Tuesday provided several other reasons to doubt that Sanders could seriously threaten Clinton for the nomination.
Perhaps the biggest reason is that Clinton has continued to clobber Sanders among African-American voters, and not just in the Deep South. She won a massive 93 percent of the black vote in Alabama, for instance, but also won black voters in Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee by huge margins.
There had been some speculation that Sanders had closed the gap with Hispanic voters in Nevada. But as FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten notes, Clinton won Hispanic voters by around 42 points in Texas — suggesting Florida and New Mexico will also be favorable terrain for the former secretary of state.
Then there was also evidence that Sanders’s appeal is limited even among white voters. Sanders lost Massachusetts, even though white people made up 86 percent of the electorate; he also lost the white vote in Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, and Virginia, according to NBC News’s exit polls.
The problem for Sanders isn’t just that Clinton swept the Southern states. It’s also that she’s likely run well ahead of him in primaries with big Democratic establishments that loom large on the calendar.
Clinton’s strength in Massachusetts, which she won narrowly, probably reflects her strength in states with strong Democratic institutions. And that suggests she’ll have a huge advantage when the contest reaches delegate-rich states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and New York.
“Those are areas with large African-American populations and an established Democratic Party organization that will be very Hillary-friendly,” Berg-Andersson said. “Sanders is not going to get delegate boosts from those states.”
By contrast, the kinds of states where Sanders has done well don’t tend to have that many delegates.
A big piece of Sanders’s coalition has been downscale white voters, who helped him win Oklahoma by 10 points on Tuesday. But while there are many states that fit this demographic makeup, most of them just aren’t very big and don’t have that many delegates. (Added up, the Sanders-friendly states like Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, Wyoming, and Oregon have around the same number of delegates as Clinton-friendly Illinois.)
It’s probably a good thing for Sanders to stay in the race for awhile to give the Democratic contest badly needed press coverage, given the overwhelming media attention being paid to Donald Trump and the implosion of the Republican Party. Democrats already suffer from a media coverage deficit.
But at some point Sanders supporters have to accept the inevitability of the fundamentals and the delegate math. It is time to start coming together to work together for victory.
I would suggest that Democrats focus their time, efforts and money on the Senate and House races, and state legislative races. If Democrats do not reverse the overwhelming GOP advantage in Congress and the state houses, then it will not matter much whether Clinton or Sanders is president. They will both face the same obstinate stonewall obstruction that President Obama has faced during most of his presidency.
Put aside your petty differences now, because Democrats must stand united against the proto-fascist Donald Trump to make certain that he is never elected president.
UPDATE: Suzy Khimm writes, Can the Sanders Movement Go Local? Looking beyond the White House to turn statehouses blue.
Exactly! Democrats should focus their time, efforts and money on the Senate and House races, and state legislative races.