- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sen. Bernard Sanders is heading toward a rough Super Tuesday, with polls showing his promised liberal revolution has yet to catch fire in the crucial slate of races next week.

Whatever momentum he earned from his blowout win in New Hampshire earlier this month has evaporated, and he trails Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton in many of the 11 states that vote March 1 — contests that feature fewer white voters and are likely to see lower turnout. Mrs. Clinton already holds a massive delegate lead, meaning Mr. Sanders must make a comeback of historic proportions to capture the Democratic nomination.

“Given what he’s been able to appeal to, the folks he’s been getting, it looks like a very tall order” to win the nomination, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at New York’s Marist College. “Bernie is getting the young people, but it’s not a crowded revolution. It’s not standing room only in terms of people going to the polls.”

By Mr. Sanders‘ own admission, his success depends on high voter turnout. But Democrats’ turnout in all three primary contests thus far has dropped from its 2008 record levels.

In Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada, for example, about 80,000 voters participated — 33 percent less than 2008’s level.

“The voter turnout was not as high as I had wanted, and what I have said over and over again is we will do well when young people, when working-class people, come out. We do not do well when the voter turnout is not large,” Mr. Sanders said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

He also freely admits he must improve his showing among African-American voters, a key constituency in the Democratic Party.

So far, however, Mrs. Clinton is crushing Mr. Sanders among black voters.

In last week’s Nevada caucuses, for example, she captured more than 75 percent of the African-American vote.

The Sanders campaign claimed it won the Latino vote in Nevada, though the Clinton camp disputed that.

Moving forward, Super Tuesday could further expose Mr. Sanders‘ problem with African-American voters, particularly in the Southern states that vote March 1.

In Texas Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Sanders by 22.4 percentage points; in Georgia, it’s 43 points, according to RealClearPolitics averages of all polls.

She also has big leads in Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Alabama.

Mr. Sanders already has all but conceded South Carolina, which holds its primary on Saturday. Mrs. Clinton has a lead of more than 20 percentage points in the Palmetto State, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Essentially giving up on South Carolina and turning his attention to some Super Tuesday states underscores the deep, fundamental problems his campaign faces.

Sanders‘ biggest problem right now is his poor support among African-Americans. More than half of the South Carolina Democratic electorate will be African-American, and Clinton has been winning that group by a 3-to-1 margin,” said Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “Many of the Southern states have large African-American contingents. If Sanders cannot improve his showing among that group, Clinton will win many of those states.”

Still, Mr. Sanders is holding out hope. Earlier this week he specifically mentioned four Super Tuesday states he believes he can win: Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota.

A big victory in his home state of Vermont is all but assured, and recent surveys also show Mr. Sanders with a slight lead in Massachusetts.

Elsewhere, however, things are less clear. There’s been little polling of Minnesota or Colorado Democrats, making the races in those two states difficult to predict.

The most recent Minnesota poll — a Star Tribune/Mason-Nixon survey conducted Jan. 18-20 — gave Mrs. Clinton a 26-point lead over Mr. Sanders.

There’s been virtually no Democratic primary polling this year in Colorado.

Mr. Sanders certainly seems very much aware of the fact that if he’s going to cut into Mrs. Clinton’s massive delegate lead, he needs big wins soon.

“We are in the midst of a stretch where 27 states will vote or caucus as part of the Democratic primary, with over 2,000 delegates up for grabs. It’s no exaggeration to say this is the most important stretch of our campaign,” he told supporters in a fundraising email Tuesday. “If we can keep it up, we are going to win. But we can’t stop. Not now. Not when we are so close and with so much on the line.”

More than 1,000 delegates will be on the line on March 1 alone. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination, and so far Mrs. Clinton is well on her way to that number.

She has 502 delegates to Mr. Sanders‘ 70, according to The Associated Press, including both delegates from caucuses and primaries and so-called superdelegates, party leaders and elected officials who are free to vote for either candidate.

Mrs. Clinton has the support of 451 superdelegates, while Mr. Sanders has just 19, according to the AP.

“It becomes a delegate game pretty soon, and you have to start racking them up,” Mr. Miringoff said.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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