Bernie Sanders predicted victory in the Democratic presidential race Saturday, after a stunning sweep of three states that breathed new life into the underdog campaign of the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, and saw him cut into the lead held by front-runner Hillary Clinton by what could turn out to be about 70 delegates.
“We knew things were going to improve as we headed West. We have a path toward victory,” Sanders told a crowd of about 8,000 in Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday. “Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t win the nomination, or win the general election. We’re going to do both of those things.”
While the three-state victory sweep by Sanders had been predicted by election prognosticators who noted that the demographics of Washington, Alaska and Hawaii appeared to favor Bernie Sanders — as did, perhaps even more importantly, the caucus format used by each of the three states that voted on what was being termed “Western Saturday,” March 26 — the sweep nonetheless appeared to shift the media narrative in Sanders favor, especially after a series of rallies at which the candidate attracted crowds well into the thousands over the past couple of weeks.
At Bernie Sanders’ rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Saturday, he delivered his victory speech after learning he had won the biggest prize of Western Saturday, Washington state. Watch that full speech in the video below.
In Alaska, Sanders won with 81.6 percent of the caucus vote, while in Washington, he claimed 72.7 percent. Results from Hawaii did not come in until about 6 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday morning, when the Honolulu Star-Advertiser posted results that made it clear that Sanders had scored a third overwhelming victory in that state as well.
— Ed Lynch (@edlynch808) March 27, 2016
What does the massive sweep, with Bernie Sanders taking lopsided victory over Hillary Clinton in three states, mean for the Sanders “political revolution” as the campaign moves into its final two months?
While his outlook appears suddenly brighter, the road to the Democratic nomination remains a narrow and rocky one for Bernie Sanders — but not one that would be impossible to navigate.
Sanders’ newfound “momentum” will almost certainly give a shot in the arm to his fundraising efforts, allowing him to stage all-out advertising blitzes in large delegate-heavy states such as New York, Pennsylvania and California — states that Sanders must win by double-digit margins to have a hope of catching Hillary Clinton.
Washington, thank you for your huge support! It is hard for anybody to deny that our campaign has the momentum. https://t.co/WceryuCx6B
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 26, 2016
Even if Sanders gains on Clinton by 70 delegates after Western Saturday, he would still need to win nearly 60 percent of all remaining delegates to reach the 2,026 required to capture the nomination — not counting the superdelegates who are mostly committed to Clinton thus far, but are free to vote any way they choose.
There are some significant factors working against Bernie Sanders on his way to the nomination.
Of the 35 states and United States territories that have voted so far in the Democratic Party presidential nomination race, Sanders has won 15. But of his victories, all but three have come in caucus states, which generally draw lower turnouts of more dedicated, hardcore supporters of each candidate in the race.
The only three primary election states that Sanders has won are his home state of Vermont, its direct neighbor New Hampshire, and Michigan. Sanders also won the Democrats Abroad primary.
Hillary Clinton has won 16 primary states, of the 20 contests in which she has prevailed so far.
Out of the 18 states and four territories yet to vote, all but four hold primaries. And of four caucuses, only two occur in a state — Wyoming on April 9, a state with just 19 delegates, and North Dakota on June 7, with 18. The other two caucuses take place in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, with seven delegates each.
In other words, for Sanders to continue his momentum, he must figure out a way to win primary elections.
Massive weekend for Bernie Sanders – Democratic nomination may all come down to New York primary in 3 weeks time https://t.co/KbbhOIX35Y
— Ashok Ahir (@ashokahir) March 27, 2016
He also must figure out how to win over minority voters to a much greater degree than he has achieved to date. Sanders has performed best in states with a low percentage, specifically, of African-American voters, winning every state where the African-American population is below eight percent.
If that statistic holds true, Sanders will keep his momentum going through the Wisconsin primary on April 5, and the Wyoming caucus on April 9, and then things take a darker turn for him.
Sanders faces a much tougher road with the New York primary on April 19. New York with its 247 pledged delegates is a must-win for Sanders. But current polling, in the FiveThirtyEight.com polling average, shows him trailing Clinton by 43.1 percentage points in a state where about 18 percent of the population is African-American and nearly 19 percent is Latino, both voting blocs with whom Sanders has struggled.
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On April 26, Bernie Sanders faces another massive obstacle, when five states go to the polls in primary elections, and 324 delegates will be up for grabs. Victory in any of those five states — Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland — will be difficult for Sanders, and another sweep seemingly out of reach.
[Featured Photo By Andy Manis/Associated Press]