Saturday’s Primaries: Bernie Sanders Wins Two Super Saturday States To Hillary Clinton’s One, Clinton Takes More Delegates

Saturday’s primaries, dubbed “Super Saturday” by much of the national media, resulted in a strong showing for the campaigns of both of the 2016 Democratic candidates for president. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won two states on Super Saturday to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s one, but Clinton won the night in terms of delegate count. Bernie Sanders’s two wins were in Kansas and Nebraska, which taken together do not deliver as many delegates as the populous Louisiana, which Hillary Clinton won by a substantial margin.

Saturday’s primaries were not winner-take-all races, so Hillary Clinton was able to pull some delegates in the Kansas and Nebraska caucuses, and Bernie Sanders was able to pull some in the Louisiana primary as well. In the Kansas Democratic caucus, winner Bernie Sanders received 23 delegates, and runner-up Hillary Clinton received 10. Similarly, by winning the Nebraska Democratic caucus, Sanders received 14 delegates to Clinton’s 10. In Louisiana, winner Hillary Clinton received 35 pledged delegates, and Bernie Sanders received 12. According to Slate, the Clinton campaign has started pushing the message that they currently have a stronger delegate lead than President Barack Obama’s campaign did at the same point in the 2008 Democratic primary race.

Super Saturday resulted in an especially impressive turnout for Kansas Democrats; the Kansas Democratic Party told press that their recorded turnout was higher for Saturday’s caucus than it had been in 2008, when turnout was on a national upswing. Additionally, Saturday’s caucuses in Kansas and Nebraska were “closed races” — meaning that voting was closed to all but registered Democrats in those states — which may subdue some of the concerns surrounding the Bernie Sanders campaign that, because he is an Independent senator running in a Democratic primary, registered Democrats may not be so willing to support him.

Saturday’s primaries absolutely showed that Bernie Sanders is still in the race. On a related note, some pundits and political watchers have expressed understandable frustration at the media’s ostensible inability to properly explain to the public the difference between pledged delegates and superdelegates on the Democratic side of the presidential race. Superdelegates are uncommitted until they cast their votes at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, and may switch their allegiances right up until the very end. Pledged delegates, however, are committed to vote for a candidate based on the results of individual state primary and caucus races.

Due to the fact that superdelegates are uncommitted, some argue that they should not be included in the delegate count, and because Hillary Clinton has a massive superdelegate lead, most of these people are supporters of Bernie Sanders. That’s fair enough, but Hillary Clinton does lead in pledged delegates as well, by an impressive margin — the current count is 651 pledged delegates for Clinton, and 456 pledged delegates for Sanders. That’s an impressive showing from Bernie Sanders, but Hillary Clinton is still the clear frontrunner in this race. She was also the clear winner of the delegate count on Super Saturday, yet it appears that some of Bernie Sanders’s more prominent supporters don’t understand why it’s not a sign of bias for journalists to report it that way.

Saturday’s primaries do prove that credit should be given to the Bernie Sanders campaign for providing much more formidable opposition to the Hillary Clinton campaign than many pundits initially expected. Both campaigns should have received a significant morale boost from Super Saturday, and political watchers should expect both candidates to be energized and optimistic about their chances as they debate from Flint, Michigan, on Sunday night.

More debates were added to the Democratic primary calendar as the race became more fiercely contested than party leaders anticipated, and the Flint debate is expected to focus on the terrible water crisis involving lead poisoning that is still greatly affecting the city. The date and location are especially significant, as the Michigan Democratic primary is up next for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, taking place on Tuesday, March 8.

[Image courtesy of Scott Olson/Getty Images]