Saturday was a big day for Bernie Sanders’ quest for the Democratic presidential nomination as he swept to resounding victories in the caucus states of Washington and Alaska. But the delegate math is still in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
Hawaii is holding caucuses Saturday as well; results are expected after midnight ET.
The wins amid record turnout are reaffirmation of Sanders’ appeal to the Democratic base and served to encourage the Vermont senator to argue that his momentum — including recent wins in the Idaho and Utah caucuses — will carry him to the nomination.
“We knew things were going to improve as we headed West,” Sanders said at a jubilant rally before 8,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin — a state that will hold the next major contest in 10 days. “We have a path toward victory.”
Takeaways from Western Saturday
Clinton built up her delegate lead on the back of a strong run in the South, and Sanders argued Saturday his campaign always knew those states would be tough. In Madison, he said the map now offers more opportunities for his campaign as the contest progressed, largely because his wins are being powered by huge turnout among younger voters.
“With your help we’re going to win right here in Wisconsin,” he said. “So 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.”
But even with his big victories on Saturday, Sanders faces steep hurdles in catching Clinton in the delegate count. While Washington had 101 delegates up for grabs, and both candidates spent a significant amount of time there, Hawaii and Alaska were relatively small prizes — with just 25 and 16 delegates at stake respectively.
Clinton’s campaign privately acknowledged that Saturday would be a good one for Sanders, and her efforts in Washington were aimed mostly at trying to keep the race relatively close, as delegates are distributed proportionally. But with over 90% delegates accounted for, Sanders held a wide lead over Clinton in Washington, 72% to 28%. Alaska was more lopsided: Sanders won 80% to 20%.
SOURCE: Maeve Reston