Politics

Why Sanders' Big Weekend Doesn't Really Matter

| by Nik Bonopartis
Bernie SandersBernie Sanders

After Bernie Sanders swept Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, everyone's favorite alternate-universe columnist, the Huffington Post's H.A. Goodman, called for frontrunner Hillary Clinton to concede the race for the Democratic nomination.

That man must have some delightful drugs.

But it's not just Goodman. Supporters of the Vermont senator were re-energized by Sanders' trifecta, arguing that the late March sweep vindicates his decision to stay in the race.

Maybe it does, but to place the victories in context, Sanders picked up just 55 delegates from all three states. That's less than Clinton earned from North Carolina alone, and when it's offset by the 20 delegates Clinton won over the same weekend, Sanders' big wins put the smallest of dents in the former Secretary of State's lead.

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Celebrating his wins in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii is like a wing player doing the Sam Cassell dance after hitting a pair of three pointers with his team down by 35. It's like showboating on the basepaths after a solo shot when your team trails by 10 runs.

Sanders was supposed to pick up easy victories in the country's more progressive states. Sanders does well in liberal states with lots of white people and college students, as the Associated Press noted. A New York Times story described the scene in Seattle, where Sanders supporters filed in "holding lattes, pushing strollers and wearing 'H' or 'Bernie' lapel pins."

"Now that we're heading into a progressive part of the country, we expect to do much better," Sanders said, per the AP.

His sojourn in progressive country will be a short one, and Clinton Country is on the horizon. In April, Democrats will hold primaries in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, states where Clinton has sizeable leads, according to polls.

Sanders supporters can hold out hope that the polls in those states aren't accurate, but that's not likely. New York is arguably Clinton's power base. She enjoys enormous support there from her time as a New York senator, former President Bill Clinton keeps an office in Harlem, and the family's primary residence is in Chappaqua, a wealthy enclave in Westchester County.

Clinton remains popular in Connecticut as well, and she's consistently polled ahead of Sanders in Pennsylvania.

As Sanders earns small victories in the northwest, it's easy to forget how poorly he does with black and minority voters, who have supported Clinton in large numbers. He won't be able to mask that weakness in states like Maryland, New Jersey and California.

While his late March surge gives his supporters hope, and will undoubtedly convince more backers to open their wallets, Sanders' path to the nomination remains the same. It's out of his hands.

Unless the FBI indicts Clinton on charges related to her email scandal, or Clinton commits a major gaffe tantamount to repeating her "superpredator" comments of 20 years ago, it's difficult to see how mainstream Democrats could be convinced to abandon her in favor of the Vermont socialist.

Sources: New York Times, Real Clear Politics, Associated Press via Real Clear Politics, Huffington Post / Photo credit: User Gage Skidmore/Flickr