Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders can’t afford to lose if he wants to become the Democratic presidential nominee, but that’s what resoundingly happened Tuesday night — Mr. Sanders got blown out in New York.
New York, like every state remaining on the Democratic primary calendar, was a must-win for Mr. Sanders in order for him to close the delegate gap with front-runner Hillary Clinton. Not only did he need to win it, he needed to win it big. Instead, he lost to Mrs. Clinton by about 16 points.
Nate Silver, a pollster at FiveThirtyEight, predicted Mr. Sanders needed to win New York by about 9 pledged delegates in order to remain on track for the nomination. Instead, he lost the state by about 30 delegates or more.
Moving forward, Mr. Sanders needs to win 59 percent of the remaining delegates up for grabs. According to FiveThirtyEight, that means he’ll have to win states such as Pennsylvania (where he’s now trailing) by double digits. Mr. Sanders is also running behind in the three delegate-rich states of Maryland, New Jersey and California.
“Put simply, Sanders can’t win the Democratic nomination without a minor miracle. That doesn’t mean Sanders won’t continue to campaign, and minor miracles do sometimes happen,” Harry Enten, with FiveThirtyEight, wrote on the site’s blog after Tuesday night’s results. “But the media shouldn’t sugarcoat this. There’s a reason the Sanders campaign is talking up superdelegates: Clinton can see the nomination in sight. Tonight reaffirmed that she is almost certainly going to be the Democratic nominee for president.”
Mr. Sanders’ campaign seems confused as to what they’re going to do. They anticipated a closer finish in New York, and the door moving forward has been all but slammed shut.
Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’ campaign manager, said on MSNBC Tuesday night, the campaign would go all the way to the Democratic convention in July instead of rallying behind Mrs. Clinton. He said the team was looking to switch so-called superdelegates, whom they will try to flip before the convention, convincing them Mr. Sanders is more electable in the general than Mrs. Clinton.
On the other hand, Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine signaled the end may be near.
He told reporters after Tuesday’s loss that the campaign will “assess where we are” — not so much fighting language.