Bernie Sanders is not giving up on the Democratic race just yet.
The Vermont senator soared to a double-digit win in West Virginia, one of his biggest in the current Democratic race against Hillary Clinton. Although she still remains firmly on course to become the Democratic nominee, the victory is certain to add fuel to Sanders’ promises of staying in the race till the very end, and it emphasizes his argument that a nomination for Clinton is not a foregone conclusion.
The performance in West Virginia will taste particularly sweet to Sanders, considering that in the race against Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton had won the eastern state by nearly 40 percentage points.
Speaking at a rally in Salem, Oregon, a state which will have its primary next week, Bernie Sanders reiterated his confidence in his campaign’s ability to build momentum as the race enters its final stages before the Democratic convention in July, according to NBC News.
While the Mountaineer State has been a stronghold of the Clintons since the 1990s, Sanders appears to have benefited from the disillusionment of working-class voters with President Barack Obama’s economic policies, something Hillary has supported strongly. Once a coal industry hub, major pockets of Appalachia have suffered in the face of Obama’s emphasis on cleaner sources of energy. As a result, manufacturing jobs have disappeared, and the coal industry has declined rapidly, adding to the mounting frustration of Democratic voters who feel that they have been deceived by the leaders of the Democratic party.
It is something Bernie Sanders acknowledged during his speech in Oregon.
“West Virginia is a working-class state, and like many other states in this country — including Oregon — working people are hurting. And what the people of West Virginia said tonight, and I believe the people of Oregon and Kentucky will say next week, is that we need an economy that works for all of us, not just the one percent.”
NPR reports that the 29 delegates in the state will be split proportionally between Clinton and Sanders, and while the Democratic front-runner’s chances might not have suffered a significant blow with the defeat in West Virginia, similar performances in the upcoming primaries could certainly dent her presidential bid in more ways than one.
Every defeat that Clinton suffers against Bernie Sanders is being seen as a chink in her armor in the potential contest against Republican nominee Donald Trump, something that Sanders touched upon during his celebratory speech, saying that he would fare much better against Trump in the general election than Clinton.
“It is not only in national polls where we defeat Donald Trump by bigger numbers than Secretary Clinton, it is state poll after state poll after state poll. Mr. Trump will not become president because the American people understand that our strength is in our diversity.”
Moreover, Sanders’ victory in Indiana and West Virginia have seen him gain support from other quarters. Ralph Nader, a longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate, said that Bernie Sanders would have defeated Hillary Clinton if all the primaries were open, before going on add that the Vermont senator must stay in the race till the end.
“Bernie Sanders has got to [stay in the race]—if he doesn’t make the nomination, he has got to lead a civic mobilization, that could be directed against Trump, but directed against all politicians, based on his broader agenda.”
With Sanders projected to perform well in the upcoming primaries — including California — could the Democratic race open up once again if he manages to build more momentum in the upcoming weeks?
[Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images]