Who won the 2016 Virgin Islands Democratic caucus?
Saturday’s contest is among the smallest races in the 2016 Democratic primary, but could have outsized importance as Bernie Sanders is desperate for a strong finish that could put him closer to Hillary Clinton in delegates and further his case that he may indeed be the strongest candidate in November.
The U.S. Virgin Islands caucus will start at 10 a.m. and results are expected to come out by early afternoon. There are seven pledged delegates to go along with five superdelegates up for grabs. Updated totals for the race can be found at the bottom.
It could be an important moment for Sanders, who has settled on a strategy that involves a big finish in the remaining primaries coupled with an active outreach to superdelegates, who would need to jump from Clinton’s side to his en masse in order to put him over the top.
It’s a long shot, and the results of the 2016 Virgin Islands caucus will likely make it a bit harder. While there is no polling from the American territory, the demographic heavily favors Hillary Clinton. The islands’ population of 106,405 is mostly Afro-Caribbean, and Clinton has held large leads among African-American voters.
With Virgin Islands voting on Saturday and Puerto Rico on Sunday, Hillary Clinton has a chance to pick up a big chunk of the 73 delegates she needs to clinch the nomination. The caucuses are worth a total of 79 delegates, and if she wins both as expected then she could have the race clinched even before results from California are announced.
While many Bernie Sanders supporters have clung to the hope that superdelegates may switch to his side, the New York Times noted this is very unlikely, and that Clinton will likely be viewed as the presumptive nominee after Tuesday.
“They can vote for whomever they want at the convention. That’s why Mrs. Clinton will be characterized as the “presumptive” nominee; she wouldn’t actually become the nominee until the vote at the convention.
“But superdelegates count like any others, and the news media includes them in determining whether a candidate has clinched the nomination.”
“News organizations projected Barack Obama as the presumptive nominee in 2008 on this basis — in fact, he went over the top with the support of 4.5 superdelegates. Donald Trump did the same thing last week thanks to the support of additional unpledged delegates.”
There have already been some signs of trouble for Bernie Sanders in the Virgin Islands, even before Saturday’s caucus. A superdelegate from the Virgin Islands announced last month that he was changing his support from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, the only superdelegate so far who has publicly changed their vote.
Former Senator Emmett Hansen II said that Hillary Clinton had a more ambitious policy agenda for U.S. territories, and that Sanders refused to return several calls to address what his agenda would be.
“I know a million different ways not to answer a question,” Hansen told Bloomberg of the response from the Sanders campaign.
The answer to who won the 2016 Virgin Islands caucus will likely not matter much after the four-day stretch of voting ends, other than to give either Clinton or Sanders another notch in contests won. The real prizes will be the New Jersey and California primaries on Tuesday, and that is where both candidates have focused most of their attention.
Bernie Sanders has been spending a lot of time in the Golden State, with rallies drawing tens of thousands of supporters. One in Oakland drew an estimated 20,000 this week, supporters that Sanders hopes will equate to an upset victory over Clinton.
UPDATE: Hillary Clinton has been declared the winner. Full results from the 2016 Virgin Islands Democratic caucus can be found here.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]