Monday, April 11, 2016

Despite Recent Wins, Bernie Still Not Winning

That headline may not make a whole lot of sense.  Or maybe you think I mean that Bernie is still behind in the pledged delegate count (which he is), and that is why he’s not winning.  Right, but wrong. 

Bernie Sanders is still not winning by the margins he needs in order to overtake Hillary Clinton’s pledged delegate lead, which as of April 1st was about 222 delegates.  After winning both Wisconsin and Wyoming since then, Clinton’s lead has only shrunk by 10 delegates to 212. 

Why is this a problem? Wisconsin and Wyoming are among the final few states that are extremely favorable to Sanders.  The majority of the rest of the states are either those in which Clinton has sizable leads or is likely roughly tied with Bernie.  That won’t do. 

I’m sure you’ve heard this number quite a bit recently.  Fifty-seven percent.  It is the average amount of the popular vote Bernie Sanders must win in the remaining contests in order to overtake Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates by the convention.  Actually, the number was 56.6% until Bernie underperformed his targets in Wisconsin and Wyoming this past week.  Even after winning those two states, he’s actually in a worse position, mathematically speaking, than he was prior to the contests.  The chart below illustrates Bernie’s current predicament:

You see, Sanders was expected to win both Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Demographically and geographically, those states were among those that should have been extremely favorable to him.  And to an extent, they were.  Sanders still won both states.  But he didn’t win them by the margin that he needed. 

The chart above divides the total delegates remaining into amounts that Sanders must shoot for in each state in order to overtake Clinton.  In Wisconsin, Bernie’s target was 53 delegates, or approximately 62% of the popular vote.  Instead, he only won 48 delegates.  Same story in Wyoming; Sanders won 4 fewer delegates there than he needed.

To complicate matters even further for the Sanders campaign, he is behind his popular vote targets, in many cases by double digits, in nearly all of the remaining states.  Does that mean he cannot catch up?  No, there is technically still time; in the same way that there is technically still time for President Obama to repeal Citizens United, enact sweeping immigration reform, pass strict new gun laws, and obliterate ISIS completely before he leaves office. 

If you want to know whether Sanders has a real shot at winning the nomination and not just an over-hyped hope, look to New York on April 19th.  Not only must Bernie win here, he must win by nothing short of double digits.  He is currently averaging about 40% in recent polls, so a current prediction of him getting 43% in the primary is not unreasonable. 

If Sanders can win with over 55% of the vote in Clinton’s home state, then yes, he will have a real shot at winning the nomination.  If he loses New York, however, he’s toast, and anyone telling you anything different is either just blowing hot air or is delusional.