Could Bernie Sanders Still Overtake Hillary Clinton In The Primary Race? Is America Feeling The Bern?

Bernie Sanders had substantial wins in all three of the caucuses held Saturday. He also won the two March 22 caucuses. Sanders gained 128 delegates this week compared to Clinton's 75 in the same amount of time. It is mathematically possible that this race could turn to the Bern. The probability of that is still up for debate, however.

Hillary Clinton won five out of five of the March 15 primaries. The margins of those wins were not nearly as substantial, though. While ABC News is reporting that Bernie won 82 percent of the vote in Alaska, 73 percent of the vote in Washington, and 70 percent in Hawaii, many of Hillary's recent wins were less significant majorities.

Bernie Sanders lost to Hillary in Missouri on March 15, but the race was only won by a tiny fraction. It was almost too close to call. Each candidate received 34 delegates from Missouri, so practically speaking, it was a win for Clinton in name only.

While Florida committed two-thirds of their delegates to Clinton, other states with March 15 primaries were much closer. For example, while Hillary received 76 committed delegates from Illinois, the Bern won 73. Many primary races this year were extremely close.

Bernie Sanders (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders [Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

Hillary Clinton now has 1,243 committed delegates, compared to Bernie Sanders' 975, according to Real Clear Politics. That means that of the 4,051 potential committed delegates, 1,833 are yet to be assigned, according to the outcome of the remaining primaries, or may decide because they were assigned to candidates who have dropped out of the race. In other words, more delegates are still uncommitted than either candidate already has.

Bernie Sanders has plenty of opportunities to gain more committed delegates. In addition to committed delegates who are required to vote for the candidate they are assigned, there are also 712 superdelegates who are free to vote for the candidate they choose. Contrary to common thought, superdelegates are not committed to either candidate prior to voting at the convention. Technically, all 712 are still free to vote their conscience in the primary.

Some of the superdelegates agreed to vote for Clinton very early in the primary process. Only 29 superdelegates have committed to Sanders in this way. Even if we consider these superdelegates, that leaves 214 delegates who are undecided or have not stated a preference.

Bernie Sanders told ABC News he believes he can get a big share of those superdelegates.

"I think the superdelegates are going to have to make a very difficult decision, and that is if a candidate wins in a state by 40 or 50 points, who are you going to give your vote to? Second of all, which candidate is better positioned to defeat Trump or any of the other Republican candidates? I think a lot of the superdelegates are going to conclude that it's Bernie Sanders."

Bernie Sanders by J Pat Carter c
Bernie Sanders by [Photo by J Pat Carter/ Getty Images]

Bernie Sanders is closing in on Hillary's lead, but even the experts cannot agree on why Bernie did so well this week. Five Thirty Eight Politics suggested that caucuses gave Bernie an advantage due to the determined nature of Feel the Bern supporters, who are willing to sit through long caucuses for the Bern.

Hillary Clinton carried the South by wide margins, but the southern states have already voted, so that might also be a factor. It could also be possible that Sanders is getting more publicity from the debates and news coverage than early in the race, and people now know more about his platform.

Bernie Sanders hypothesized to ABC News that he will do well in the progressive west coast states, as well as New York.

"What we showed yesterday is in fact the momentum is with us. We think we're going to do well in Wisconsin. We think we got a real shot in New York. And then we go out to California. You go out to Oregon. That's the most progressive part of America."

If Bernie Sanders could get the lion's share of California's 475 delegates, he would be well on his way. Californians do not vote until June 7, and the last primary, District of Columbia, will not be held until June 14. It could be a very long time before either Hillary or Bernie establish a meaningful lead.

[Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images]