March 16, 2016
Bernie Sanders will continue forward. He has every reason to. He has money and a movement. His success has pushed Hillary Clinton way further in his ideological direction than anyone could have imagined a year ago.
He will win several more contests. Of states voting between now and April 19, only Arizona is a semi-decent bet for Hillary. If Clinton falls short in November, a candidate will pick up Bernie’s torch and become an instant top-tier contender in 2020.
But the nomination contest, barring intervention from the FBI, an indictment, or a health issue, is now over.
Bernie was already facing a math issue. Hillary’s southern victories racked up a big earned delegate advantage to go along with her super delegate lead. But if he could win enough yesterday, taking at least two, ideally three of Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri, you could picture a map where most of Clinton’s support was confined to the South.
Didn’t happen. Based on where the polls were 10 days ago, he made some real progress. Once trailing by 37 to 42 points in Illinois, he lost by 2. Once trailing by at least 20 in Ohio, he cut the margin almost in half. North Carolina was his best old Confederacy result yet.
But Florida was still a delegate disaster. Hillary took almost two-thirds of the vote in the biggest state in the group. He’s agonizingly short in Missouri at the time of this writing. There’s a lot of overlap between Trump and Clinton, Sanders and Cruz. For both Hillary and the Donald, Missouri was just southern enough to really help them.
There isn’t actually much delegate difference between what Bernie was hoping for yesterday and what he actually got. North Carolina, Illinois, and Missouri were all within a couple/few points of what he could have reasonably hoped for.
He fell 5 to 10 points short in Florida and about 10 short in Ohio. Not great, but not the end of the world based on the count. There was never any chance he would gain half of the total delegates with Florida in the picture.
It’s all symbolic. The Clinton campaign was legitimately concerned about their legitimacy if she lost across the Midwest yesterday. The narrative would have sucked. Now she can say she’s won the majority of swing states contested so far.
New Hampshire and Colorado felt the Bern. But Nevada, Iowa, Florida, and Ohio opted for Hillary. With her large mathematical advantage, it wasn’t going to require a ton of supporting argument, but now she’s won more than her share of large states, and important ones.
He can’t just say she’s only winning red states that don’t actually matter in November. The most important day in the Democratic campaign so far was Nevada. Sanders hasn’t fully recovered from losing the chance to put Hillary completely on the defensive.
But this was the second most important, the day she removed any remaining doubt about Bernie’s ability to catch up.