Can Bernie Sanders Still Become US President?

After three victories, Sanders believes he still has a chance of winning the Democratic nomination in the primaries. Is he wrong?

He comes from Brooklyn. She [Hillary Clinton] has set up headquarters across in Manhattan. When the state of New York votes for the Democratic presidential candidate in the primary on April 19, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will come geographically closer than ever before: a local duel with a special flavor. Afterward, U.S. commentators are hoping that, following the turbulent Easter period, it will finally become clear which of the two will be put forward as Barack Obama’s successor at the party convention in Philadelphia in July.

Looking back, Clinton had believed Sanders to have shrunk smaller and smaller, to the size of a large Playmobil figure. With a lead of just under 700 delegate votes, the former first lady already looked like a sure winner. Much of the U.S. commentariat deemed the “revolution” declared by the Vermont senator against “millionaires and billionaires,” supported mostly by young voters, to have been averted. Yet, the 74-year-old’s three landslide victories in the states of Washington, Hawaii and Alaska have given new emphasis to the narrative over the weekend. Does Bernie really still have a chance of snatching the nomination from under Hillary’s nose?

If you ask Sanders, the answer is obvious. “Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t win the nomination, or win the general election,” his hoarse voice drummed into supporters over the weekend. “We’re going to do both of those things.” Not so fast.

Sanders Triumphed Mainly in the Caucuses

4763 delegates will vote in Philadelphia. The winner needs 2,382 votes. To date, Clinton has roughly 1,700; Sanders 1,000. In the remaining 22 primaries, barely 2,070 votes are still to be cast, proportional to the election results. Sanders would need to win 55 percent of delegate votes in order to catch up with Clinton. Mathematically, it is possible. But is it likely politically? Probably not, unless a dramatic error were to drag Clinton into the abyss.

The reason for this can be found in the demographics, and in the small print of the primaries. Until now, Sanders has enjoyed most of his successes in the caucuses. These are often time-consuming, basic democratic procedures, during which voters participate in fruitful discussions before filling in their ballots. In open primaries, on the other hand, where a name is simply marked with a quick cross, it was often the self-proclaimed “socialists” who clearly backed Clinton. This was particularly the case when a substantial part of the electorate in the relevant state was recruited from African-American and Latino communities. Both of these voter groups are wary of Sanders.

Clinton in the Lead in New York Opinion Polls

Only the caucuses in Wyoming and North Dakota remain in the mainland U.S. Yet, how voters will cast their ballot there is of little consequence. In contrast, the 750 votes that are up for grabs up until the end of April in the demographically diverse East Coast states of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island may decide the race. Clinton has the advantage here. In New York, she led by 20 percent in the most recent opinion polls.

Sanders is aware of this fact, which is why he is trying to orchestrate a change in mood. The plan is as follows: Clinton’s lead by almost 700 votes comes above all from the superdelegates. They are Democratic dignitaries who may vote as they please at the party conference, no matter the decision made by the state to which they belong. The majority has already declared their support for Clinton. Sanders, however, believes that he could still attract many into his camp. The reason: his enthusiasm. Hillary is traveling in a sleeping car across the country. A Clinton victory in New York could thwart the plan and stop Sanders in his tracks once and for all. All eyes are on Brooklyn.

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