A favourite aphorism of politicians seeking to lower the public’s expectations of their performance in the pre-vote polls is that, ‘the only poll that matters is the one on election day.’ Insurgent Senator Bernie Sanders has emphatically claimed a series of victories and momentum in pursuit of the Democratic nomination. Ostensibly, these results are a seemingly strong showing in the latest Democratic contests. Why ‘seemingly’? Sanders decisively won the Kansas and Nebraska Democratic Caucuses held on Saturday, March 5. However, he decisively lost the Louisiana Primary, with frontrunner Secretary Clinton besting him by over 40 points.
A decisive loss in Louisiana comes on the heels of Sanders’ similarly large losses in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Sanders has had a consistent problem trying to win over non-white voters in this primary cycle. And we are not talking simple majorities here, Sanders has lost every contest where the non-white population is greater than 20 percent of the population by a landslide. Sanders’ problems amongst African Americans are well documented, but he also struggles with Hispanic voters.
To be clear, Senator Sanders’ path to the nomination vanished on Super Tuesday when he showed himself unable to make any headway with non-white voters. Despite Sanders’ two wins on Saturday, the combined delegate count offered by Kansas and Nebraska totalled 58 delegates, by contrast there were 51 delegates available in Louisiana. Sanders’ total in the two caucus states, 23 in Kansas and 14 in Nebraska, were completely eclipsed by Clinton’s haul of 41 in Louisiana. Additionally, Clinton received 10 delegates in Kansas and 11 in Nebraska to Sanders’ 10 in Louisiana. Clinton won the day 65 delegates to Sanders’ 47.
For all the talk of momentum and the record fundraising hauls, Sanders is falling further and further behind Clinton. As FiveThirtyEight’s delegate tracker shows, Clinton has 114 percent of the delegates she needs to be on track for the nomination, Sanders is underachieving by this metric with only 85 percent of the votes he needs by this stage, were he a serious contender for the nomination.
Numbers do not lie. In a contest like the presidential primaries, the winner is the person who receives an outright majority of the delegates. The primary map looks increasingly unfriendly to Sanders the further into March we progress. Sanders is losing by the only reliable measure we have in this race, and he now has to run harder against time than he does against Clinton.
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