Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders defeated fellow candidate Hilary Clinton in all three contests last Saturday. He desperately needed this momentum to close the gap against Clinton, who still holds a significant lead.
The victories will greatly help Sanders as he continues into the last few contests of the democratic primary. While still the underdog, he continues to preach that this race isn’t over yet.
He came away from Washington with 73 per cent of the vote, Alaska with 82 per cent, and Hawaii with 71 per cent. Sanders was aided by the overwhelmingly white and liberal electorates of the three states. He has historically performed worse in more moderate states, and those with a larger minority population.
Washington was the day’s largest prize, with a total of 101 delegates. This win was incredibly valuable for Sanders, who appeared defeated after soundly losing contests across the south, and in the more valuable states of Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina.
As of Saturday, Clinton is ahead with 1 243 delegates to Sanders’ 975, a lead of 268. Securing the nomination will require at least 2 383 delegates, making it still anyone’s race.
At a rally in Wisconsin following his victories, Sanders continued to ensure supporters that he still has a fighting chance. “We knew from day one that politically we were going to have a hard time in the Deep South,” he said. “But we knew things were going to improve when we headed west.”
He noted the “huge” turnout in Washington. Over 200 000 people participated in the contest, close to the 2008 record set by Obama and Clinton. This victory will motivate Sanders and his supports as they head into next month’s primaries.
Next month, both New York and Pennsylvania will be holding primaries. Both are massive states with over 200 delegates each and they are sure to be the targets of a media offensive from both candidates in the coming weeks. New York will especially be a tough battle for Sanders and his anti-Wall Street message, as it is the home of Clinton’s senatorial seat.
The victories on Saturday highlighted both Sanders’ weaknesses and strengths as a candidate. Young voters are rushing to support Sanders in large numbers, but he continues to fail in courting the votes of the Hispanic and Black population.
This doesn’t seem to faze Clinton, who still holds a comfortable lead. “I have, as of now, gotten more votes than anybody else, including Donald Trump. I have gotten 2.6 million more votes than Bernie Sanders,” and “have a bigger lead in the pledged delegates, the ones you win from people voting, than Barack Obama had at this time in 2008.”
Clinton’s foreign policy record has borne the brunt of Sanders’ attacks,more specifically, her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq war. Because of this, Clinton has shifted away from discussing foreign issues, instead focusing on attracting middle-class voters with talk of supporting small business.