Amid Trump hysteria it has not attracted much notice that Bernie Sanders has won five straight Democratic contests. Granted, that comes after a string of seven straight Clinton wins so it's not champagne time by any stretch of the imagination. But five wins beats five losses.

The problem is that those five victories did not do a lot to the numbers because few delegates represent those states. Compare the seven won by Clinton (her delegate count is in the left column, pledged only) to the five won by Sanders (right column) and it's clear that not all wins are created equal in this process.


What his campaign is banking on is that the worst is over and the election now moves into their candidate's wheelhouse. The Alabamas and Utahs and Texases of the primary process are done with and the remaining states are solid Blue on the whole. If he's gonna do well anywhere, this is where you would expect it. Here's an overview of the remaining contests. In this table and throughout this post we're going to ignore the superdelegates in parenthesis; they're likely to support whoever wins the majority of pledged delegates, just as they did in 2008. For now they are sticking with Clinton. If Sanders catches her, most of them will jump ship once again.

The Democratic Party process has 4051 total pledged delegates (PD), meaning the magic number for a majority is 2026. Currently Sanders has 980 and Clinton has 1243. It's not a small margin, but neither is it insurmountably large. To win the majority of the 4051 total PD count Sanders would need 57.22% of the remaining 1898 PD as of today's date. He's been winning with large percentage majorities in the recent races. Can he keep it up? If he doesn't, he's going to be in trouble by the end of April.

Dem Del

There are two contests before April 19 – WY and WI – with 100 combined PD. For the sake of argument let's say the candidates split those 60 (Sanders) and 40 (Clinton). That would keep the status quo in place until April 19-26, during which six races will occur. Two of the states, NY and PA, are very large with 247 and 189 PD respectively. If Sanders does not win 60%-plus of the delegates available on April 19 and 26 the math for catching Clinton becomes very difficult. California and New Jersey would represent almost all of the remaining PD after April 26.

The Democrats do not use Winner-take-All rules, so the reality is that both candidates' PD total will inch steadily higher as these races unfold. If Clinton scores a decisive win in a large state at this point, though, it would not be the end of Sanders but the odds would start looking very long. On the other hand, wins in places like New York (where Clinton currently leads significantly in an admittedly small sample of polls). He not only needs to find a way to win, but he needs to win by a margin large enough to start catching up. California is narrowing but Clinton leads there as well.

Without those two, the road to a majority is hard to see. Not only winning but winning by a 3/5 majority is a tall order for any candidate. Stranger things have happened, though, and despite falling onto the back burner over the past few weeks the race is far from over. By the end of the day on April 26 we should have a very good idea of how realistic it is for Sanders to catch up. I wouldn't bet my paycheck on that happening, but I wouldn't bet it on Clinton either at this point.

35 thoughts on “GOOD NEWS, SORT OF”

  • "but the odds would start looking very long."

    START looking? START? Optimism is great and all, but the minute she won Ohio this was pretty much over. He's gotta kill in WI, not just win, but kill. I think he can. But NY? I live here. It's not happening.

    By all means, don't stop fighting, but steady yourself for disappointment.

  • Bernie has done best in caucuses, and the only two left are in Wyoming and North Dakota. Hillary's been much stronger in primaries, even in blue states (eg. her narrow win in Massachussetts).

    @dloburns: Bernie will not be VP. He's just too old. I wish him a long and healthy life, but in an actuarial sense, the chances of him dying or developing a severe illness in the next four years are just too high. His replacement would have to be confirmed by the Senate, and that shitshow would make the Supreme Court nomination look like a playground squabble.

    So long as the Republicans held the House, it would be in their interest to keep the position vacant; then, if Hillary is removed by death, resignation, or impeachment, Paul Ryan becomes President. It's not worth the risk.

    If Bernie does not get the nomination, he will stay in the Senate, where he can probably do more good anyway.

    If he does (difficult, but not impossible), Hillary is a possible VP choice, but maybe not the strongest. He might prefer someone younger, without Hillary's extensive baggage, and more in tune with his own ideas, who could be built up as a possible successor. Again, given Bernie's age, the issue of succession would be important. He might want to retire after one term; he will be 79 years old on Inauguration Day 2021.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    You missed that Washington hasn't assigned most of its delegates yet. Bernie stands to pick up in the neighborhood of 75 there in total. Still, your point is correct almost to the point of being totally obvious. Bernie needs to win some big states in decisive fashion, I think everyone in his campaign knows it.

  • I like Bernie but I wish he had never used the "S" word to describe himself.

    Even in 2016 I fear that "socialist", no matter how you slice it, would be poison in a general election.

    I can just see the GOP attack ads featuring him morphing into Stalin.

  • Assuming that Clinton wins (which is damned likely–yeah, politics are fluid, things change, but both she and Sanders are remarkably consistent candidates–she prethinks every word or action, his convictions are bone-deep and his chosen issues are few in number–nobody's gonna fuck up and change the narrative), Sen. Sanders's supporters have to ask themselves whether they want Bernie himself, or a candidate who will act on Bernie's principles. That is, whether this is about personality, or performance.

    If it's about personality, then, well, there's no softening the blow.

    If it's about principles, however, then the campaign has forced Clinton into taking far more Bernie-ish positions, and to speak to Bernie-ish concerns, and they'd do better to channel their energy into keeping up that pressure, especially as the Dems will need their votes to win decisively.

    My concern is that, Clinton being Clinton, she will fall back on the position of "fuck your concerns, you're going to vote for me no matter what, because do you really want Trump or Cruz or whoever, the fuck you don't, now shut up and pull the blue lever." Because Clinton will not give a goddamned inch if she thinks she doesn't have to, even if the other side has the moral right of it.

    So, yeah, still losing sleep over this.

  • The big obstacle is NY, and frankly I think it's insurmountable. And it isn't even the polling numbers that make it look insurmountable, it's the registration process there. In NY, you had to register as a Democrat before October (WTF?) before being able to vote in the upcoming primary. Because Sanders does far better with young voters and independents who are unlikely to be registered under the correct party that far in advance, he is essentially sunk.

    The thing that is most regrettable to me is that Sanders hasn't managed to get Clinton to actually commit to more left-wing policies. Sure, he's managed to get her to "talk" more Left, but he hasn't forced her to say, "When I am in office, I will veto the TPP." Is just been high level "Everyone should be able to afford college" stuff that is way too easy to walk back in the general and disappear into the ether once she takes office.

  • H.M.S. Blankenship says:

    J. Dryden–that sounds like the traditional complaint about dems–they take Black voters/Hispanic voters/poor people (their supposed natural constituencies) for granted. Whereas this year, all the talk is about how Trump has attracted all the people who always vote R but now feel that they have been taken for granted by their candidates. So we have to wonder if there is enough anger everywhere to result in a majority pulling the lever for Trump in spite of all the excellent reasons not to do so. I was confident there weren't that many bigoted morons out there; not so sure about bigoted morons + ordinary angry folks who are just Mad As Hell & Not Going To Take it Any More & don't care about future SCOTUS vacancies. We should all try to mentally prepare for Mrs. Trump redecorating the white house.

  • What Major Kong said.

    Like seriously, we already know what the ratfuckers in the GOP will throw at Hillary, and she's made it through it. There is literally nothing else that can be thrown at her that hasn't already been tried, and while she is hated by some percentage of the population, those people aren't going to magically vote for Bernie in a general election if she isn't the nominee. Oh, people on the left may not like her, but those that have a blind hatred of her weren't gonna vote democrat in the first place.

    But Bernie? You think the "he'll turn the US into Venezuela" crap is bad now? Just wait till the dark artists and the dark money starts flowing against him in a general election. Anyone remember the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" assholes? The Republicans managed to make a draft-dodging former coke head who started two useless wars (one of which by literal criminal means), allowed torture in our collective names, started an unfunded mandate for Medicare (which didn't allow certain cost saving measures), and gave a huge handout to the very rich seem patriotic against a respected Senator and literal war hero. Imagine what they will do with someone who self-describes as a socialist, someone who is not even a member of the Democratic party, and will scare the living bejesus out of the economic powers-that-be.

    I think Americans don't like their leaders chosen for them, even if it is an illusion of choice. Why do you think Jeb(!) did so shitty with all that money? Why do you think a lot of Democratic voters dislike Hillary Clinton? Collectively, we are not a monarchy and people like the *idea* of choosing our leaders, even if in practice there are very few people who actually are able to run for president, serve on the Supreme Court, etc.

  • Major Kong:

    I love that Bernie has used "Socialist" as a self-descriptor. I think it made sense in 1992 and maybe in 2000, but at this point, there is simply no reason at all for left-liberal candidates to tailor their message around a fear of right wing political attacks. The right does not give a shit about our criticism, why should we care about theirs? I think liberals of a certain age still believe that the nation is full of H.W. Bush era moderates who flip between two ideologically similar parties and philosophies. That's really not the case any more. We need to get beyond allowing conservatives to write America's political dictionary. We'll never win with their words.

  • Mathematical delusions are the only delusions among the Sandersnistas* that never bother me. Let them promise free college and a simple health care payment system and an end to wars including the ones he doesn't say he'll necessarily stop and I'll want to say stuff. But if they want to hope he can win, I'm good with that. I'd be happy to vote for him, too.

    And I think Clinton/Castro would be like trolling the GOP neanderthal wing SO HARD. A Texas mayor with HUD experience and that last name? Why not?

    *I don't consider that to be a derogatory term. In fact, I would buy the t-shirt.

  • "…the remaining states are solid Blue on the whole. If he's gonna do well anywhere, this is where you would expect it."

    So what happened in Illinois? I haven't looked into this to see what exit polling said, but did Clinton claiming IL as her (one of many) home state sway things? Or is IL not "solid blue" enough? Admittedly 2012 and 2008 as data points don't help there because Obama truly is from IL.

    Why were IL, MI, & MO so close but Florida was over 2-to-1 to Clinton and Ohio was a Vermont-sized swing to Clinton. Are Florida and Ohio democrats that much different than IL/MI/MO 'midwesterners'? Is Ohio an outlier for 'midwest' states?

    It's all rather fascinating. I'm glad Sanders has had the success he has had and wish him the best. (he needs it)

  • Pete Gaughan says:

    wetcasements: "HRC picking Bernie as veep wouldn't expand her chances in the electoral college and vice versa, so no. HRC will pick a male hispanic. No idea bout Bernie."

    VP's geography simply doesn't influence enough votes to flip a state. Where the VP choice *can* help…

    (1) Contrast; demographic/descriptive balance. If you have an old pres candidate, you need a young VP candidate (McCain/Palin, Romney/Ryan) and if you have an "inexperienced" P you need an experienced VP (Obama/Biden, Bush/Cheney). If you have someone who's seen a hardliner at the top of the ticket you might want a squish VP (Reagan/Bush) or vice versa (Dole/Kemp).

    (2) To a lesser extent, the VP is a signal about the types of choices the pres candidate would make. Obama picked Biden to signal warmth and genuineness; he could have chosen other senators for their age and experience but they would have been too 'serious'.

    Clinton can go with someone younger to offset her age; someone male or minority; or someone with a reputation as less conniving, less political, more authentic. Martin O'Malley checks all of these boxes except 'minority'; Cory Booker checks them all except 'authentic'. Sanders provides no benefit other than 'male', so no, he won't be her VP pick.

  • Pete Gaughan says:

    Oh, and yeah: O'Malley doesn't cost the Dems a Senate seat, another reason why he's the #1 seed in my VP bracket.

  • @ Pete Gaughan — and Hillary certainly won't pick someone more popular than she is. Many, many Hillary supporters are behind her because of identity politics (vote for the girl because we're girls), just because she's well-known and Bernie isn't, because of a sense of inevitability or supposed electability, or because of the Hillary-ites' last line of defense (offense): Vote for her or else.

    If she gets into office, and I pretty much think she will, she will not be riding a wave of enthusiasm, no matter how much her camp tries to paint her win as a "mandate." Most people will have "chosen" her the same way you "choose" to give your wallet to the guy with a gun in your ribs. Vote for Hillary or you get Trump/Cruz/Ryan/Mitt/name your poison.

    So, she will definitely not pick a running mate who stands the chance of getting more media attention than she and who will rise in the polls as she sinks. And, since she will almost certainly be impeached if the House stays Republican, she wants someone waiting in the wings who will be even less attractive than she. "Grounds for impeachment" are whatever 218 representatives say they are. And the Teabaggers are just champing at the bit to "get" her. Conviction in the Senate is a different matter.

    But I don't think the Hillary camp is as certain of victory as they say they are. They are pulling out the stops to push her over the top — almost to the point of panic. There was the little matter of the Democrats "slipping up" in DC and not filing paperwork in time to get Bernie on the ballot. "Oooops. How did that happen?"

    Another thing I've noticed is the full-court press on propaganda. I visit a few lefty blogs and I've noticed a sudden increase in Hillary drones chiming in early and often. Many of these are newbies, not regular posters. They jump in early on every thread and either recite Hillary talking points or engage in Bernie bashing. They've been around for six months or so, but they have increased dramatically in the last three or four weeks. It's quite possible that Hillary's internal polling isn't going as well as they let on.

    Still, as much as I like Bernie, I think she and her backers will pull it off. She has been bought and paid for over and over by Wall Street. They are not going to let that investment go to waste.

  • It is hard fighting the MSM as well as Hillary's machine. Robert Reich is appalled by the neglect of the Bernie story by major news channels, but the Yout' apparently pay little attention to those channels anyway. Though Bernie will doubtless need a few of us oldsters to help with his numbers.

    In case you missed it, some comedian's hand-drawn flow chart simplifies the current campaign choices:

  • @Major Kong

    Without the socialist label he's got no hook at all.

    Honestly if Sanders were a tried and true Democrat he would have flamed out long before now. The thing that he's got going for him is a wave of young people who have heard of this "socialism" thing and how Republicans think its bad and when they look around they're thinking "well, if Republicans think its bad it must be pretty good – look at the crap they believe in". Without that to hang his hook on he's just a liberal on the left-side of the center-left spectrum and, well, not that special. Certainly not the kind of thing that draws the revolutionary spirit that has been driving his campaign.

    I'm not sure socialism would actually sell quite yet in a general election, but we're close. Another 5-10 years of Republicans being horrible and another 5-10 years of attrition among the older people who are still scared of the Commies might do it though.

  • Echoing Hoosier's comment above:

    Why does Washington have 100+ delegates but seems to be just kind of waiting to award them?

    Washington was the big prize last weekend and, like we all know, "winning states" doesn't really matter; it's the pledged delegate count. By my rough math Bernie should have cleaved 100 delegates off Clinton's lead. I'm not accusing them of being conspiratorial but the fact that Washington is going to award those delegates…whenever? really plays into the narrative of "Bernie can win by small margins here or there but he's so far behind he'll never catch up." He fucking killed it this weekend but Washington is making it appear as though he only did half as good.

  • paintedjaguar says:

    @nonynony – It isn't about labels or "hooks". What Sanders has going for him is

    1) He's not a transparent liar like Hillary. In fact for a politician, he's quite honest (and that actually is "special").

    2) He isn't corrupt — after decades in politics his net worth is no more than $750k, maybe less. And he's not a likely candidate for a corporate golden parachute either.

    3) He actually believes in populist policies and politics. He's about as far left as you can be while working inside the Democratic party and his campaign themes are about "us", while Hillary's are about "I".

    4) His past history and character are pretty much consistent with his current public persona and statements. Whether you call it authenticity or integrity, people do pick up on that. Sure, Bernie is catching an accidental wave, but only because he's been out there paddling for years.

    5) In terms of personality, he comes off as your kindly uncle or grandfather. That doesn't hurt.

  • @Jesse,

    Washington gives the votes out over time. A bunch of us who showed up at our precincts for Bernie and became "delegates" now have to show up two more times, April 17th and May 1st, and campaign for him again, maybe speak on his behalf or something, in order for him to get the rest of the actual Delegates. I've never been involved in Democratic party politics, always just sent in my mail-in primary ballot without realizing we even had a Caucus or what those were. Washington's Democrat Caucus system is incredibly complicated and byzantine, totally favoring the kind of gray-haired and retired/independently wealthy democrats who usually quietly make things run and give the state's vote to whatever establishment candidate is running. All the Washington Bernie small-d "delegates" are now freaking out on Facebook trying to get organized and rally and define party policy. Ahem. The establishment isn't going to let that happen. Not ever.

  • if Bernie does it, it will be inspire of Hillary and the D's. that's always been a given. I just can't imagine all the D's with MONEY allowing Bernie to win and Hillary to "lose." there's just too much at stake for the D's. dissing their own base is what make the Democratic Party the Democratic Party. spitting on their own voters/base is just their nature. look at Obama, Rahm, Pelosi, Feinstein, and so forth. oh yea, they want our money, but they are going to fuck us over no matter, if we vote for them or not.

    I guess we will have to have more years of abuse and blackmail by the D's before enough people see the Democratic Party as the greater evil for selling out all the Democratic ideas. If Obama is any clue, illusions die hard. selling out the Base is the tried and true behavior, unlike the Republicans who fear their base, hate their base, but are terrified of losing their vote. For the Democrats, the base can go to hell. like where else can they go? Green party, lol, what a waste of votes. this is a Two Party Game.

    a pajama clad freetos eating liberal is all the "Democratic Party" thinks of the Left/non Republican base. at least Hillary will help make the crash harder and quicker. that's about the only good thing that can be said of Hillary and version of the D's, aka the Vichy D's.

  • Sorry, Bernie isn't 100% perfect on gun issues.

    I'm going to have to sit this election out while I wait for the perfect progressive candidate to come along.

    Of course by the time that happens, Ted Cruz will have destroyed the country, so it won't matter.

  • greatlaurel says:

    There are way too many right wing attacks against Hillary Clinton that are now being appropriated by the self described left. If you are using right wing propaganda to attack the leader in the Democratic primary, you may not be a progressive. Hillary Clinton was the 11th most liberal senator when she was in the Senate by analyzing her voting record. " Hillary Clinton was the 11th most liberal member of the Senate in each of the 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. That places her slightly to the left of Pat Leahy (-0.386), Barbara Mikulski (-0.385) and Dick Durbin (-0.385); clearly to the left of Joe Biden (-0.331) and Harry Reid (-0.289);"

    Hillary Clinton is also in bed with Big Environment, too. The following is a quote from the article.
    "Some folks have been using the open secrets site to try and make some kind of bizarre case for Hillary’s corruption based on what employees in this sector have been donating to her. So I followed the links to Open Secrets, did some research, and was shocked(!) to learn that Hillary has received far more money from people working on environmental issues and people working in the renewable energy sector than Bernie Sanders."
    Then there is her "pandering" on Native American issues.
    " "Secretary Clinton has a long history of working on issues of importance to Native Americans,” Cladoosby said in his personal endorsement. “From her work on the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and Children's Health Insurance Program, to supporting the United States' role in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Hillary has long been by our side."

    Really folks, read the proposals from HRC and look at her voting record instead of believing the right wing propaganda.

  • I fear that "socialist", no matter how you slice it, would be poison in a general election.

    Honesty isn't malleable – Bernie is, Hillary isn't.

    In America, it isn't often that the good guys win but it won't be from lack of effort on Bernie's part. 74 years old and how many stump speeches has he made in the last 12 months.

  • I have no doubt Bernie is honest, but "I'm going to raise your taxes" is a tough sell.

    Cranky old white people have a better record of actually coming out to vote than millenials. Now I'm told that "millenials just never had a candidate that excited them before" and maybe that's true.

    I'll certainly vote for him if he's the nominee. The alternative is just too horrific to contemplate. But I'm hearing my parents, usually reliable Democratic voters, repeating the "He'll turn us into Venezuela" meme and that worries me.

  • Just have to say that Frank's latest: "Listen, Liberal" is an excellent, heavily footnoted, stinging recap of all that had turned a 66 year old geezer (me) into a Sanders fan.

  • @Townsend Harris

    There is a high probability that I don't know what I'm talking about (I live in Utah), but from it says you need to have affiliated as a Democrat by October 9th, 2015. I'm guessing that is different than registering to vote?

  • Hilary Clinton is in big trouble over the email scandal, although the press is not reporting much on it. If there is a trial, she is probably finished and good riddance.

  • Well, it will be interesting to see how many butthurt occassional voters will give Trump or any Refucklican a vote, instead of voting for THEIR candidates ENEMY–or just stay home and let the Refucklicans win by their non-particiapation.

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