- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont claimed the momentum Sunday in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, celebrating a trio of landslide victories over the weekend and calling on the party’s superdelegates to defect from front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Sanders got the burst of energy after crushing Mrs. Clinton in Democratic caucuses Saturday in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, three contests in which he topped her by an average 49 points.

“We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton’s lead,” Mr. Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “The momentum is with us. A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their position with Secretary Clinton.”

Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist whose far-left agenda has caught fire with young and liberal voters, turned his sights on superdelegates as he pivoted toward upcoming key contests in Wisconsin and New York, where he hopes to keep closing in on Mrs. Clinton.

He has got to convince party leaders and voters that he can make the math work to win the nomination, which is still a long shot.

In Wisconsin, which votes April 5, Mr. Sanders will challenge Mrs. Clinton’s appeal to blue-collar workers. And then he hopes to put Mrs. Clinton on defense with liberal voters in her adopted home state of New York, which votes April 19.

Despite Mr. Sanders‘ huge victories this weekend, Mrs. Clinton remains the prohibitive favorite. She still maintained a massive lead in the delegate hunt, in part due to her dominance of the superdelegates, who are elected officials and party leaders who are free to back whomever they chose at the convention.

Mrs. Clinton had 1,712 delegates, including 469 superdelegates, and Mr. Sanders had 1,004 delegates, including 29 superdelegates, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

It takes 2,383 delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.

“A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their position with Secretary Clinton, a lot have not yet declared, and then you have superdelegates that are in states where we win by 40 or 50 points,” said Mr. Sanders. “I think their own constituents are going to say to them, ‘Hey, why don’t you support the people of our state [and] vote for Sanders.’”

He argued that the superdelegates also should rethink their allegiance in light of polls that show him beating Republican front-runner Donald Trump by larger margins.

A recent Fox News poll showed Mr. Sanders topping Mr. Trump by 14 points in a theoretical matchup, compared to Mrs. Clinton beating the billionaire businessman by 11 points.

Mr. Sanders continues to draw crowds of thousands to his events, which dwarf Mrs. Clinton’s rallies. He regularly beats Mrs. Clinton with young voters and liberal voters, although Mrs. Clinton has dominated with minorities and older voters.

Mr. Sanders also does well in caucuses and when there are large turnouts, as was the case Saturday.

Mr. Sanders overwhelmed Mrs. Clinton in Alaska 81 percent to 18 percent, in Washington 72 percent to 27 percent and in Hawaii 69 percent to 30 percent, according to unofficial results.

“We have a path toward victory,” Mr. Sanders said at a rally Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin, where he celebrated his caucus wins. “Don’t let anybody tell you that we can’t win the nomination or win the general election. We are going to do both of those things.”

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