Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hillary's Big Night

This wasn't just a win, it was a rout. Hillary Clinton didn't just beat Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, she cleaned his clock. She got 74 percent of the vote to Sanders 26 percent, but more importantly she picked up 43 of the state's 59 delegates, with 2 delegates yet to be decided.

As bad as the night was for Sanders, it could've been far worse. Had this primary been run under GOP rules, Clinton would've won ALL the delegates, because she won every congressional district and county in the state. She also won every demographic group except voters under 30. Sanders still held that group. In fact, that demographic has proven to be his strongest throughout this campaign.

So, where do we go from here? Well, for one thing, let's be clear: this race isn't over, not just yet. True, Hillary had a big night; an important night. She needed a huge win and she got it. And she also has a huge lead in a majority of the Super Tuesday contests, including Texas which has 252 available delegates and Georgia which has 116. By contrast, Bernie's only sizable lead is in his home state of Vermont which has a paltry 26 available delegates. He's tied with Hillary in Massachusetts which has 116 available delegates. Assuming he splits the delegates there and wins, say, 75 percent of the delegates in Vermont, Hillary could still end up with a commanding lead in delegates by midweek.

So why isn't it over after Tuesday? Because we still have another Super Tuesday coming on the 15th of March, and also because Sanders has enough cash on hand to stretch this primary season out until he is mathematically eliminated. Unlike the Republican primaries, which as of March 15 are winner take all, all of the Democratic contests award their delegates proportionally. That means if he manages to close the gap in polling between himself and Clinton, Sanders could pick up enough delegates to hold on for weeks. Assuming Hillary holds all her super delegates - and there's no reason to believe she won't - she will most likely lock up the nomination in either late March or early April, more than enough time for Sanders to make a statement and save face with his supporters.

And that's really the best Sanders can hope for. No matter how you slice it or dice it, the map for him just keeps getting smaller and smaller. Without the majority of African Americans behind him, there's simply no way he can beat Hillary Clinton. The irony for him is that while he wins with young voters and on the issue of trust, Clinton wins when it comes to every other demographic and the all-important electability issue. A majority of Democratic voters simply believe she is more electable than Sanders in the general. And unlike Republican voters, who don't seem to care much about that, Democratic voters do and Bernie is paying the price for it.

The bottom line is this: if you're a Hillary supporter, last night was a good night. Your candidate is in the driver's seat. If you're a Bernie supporter, your candidate has a lot of catching up to do and not a lot of time in which to do it.

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