Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yesterday Was a Good Day

I know, I know, everyone is freaking out about Helen Purcell's indescribable incompetence, and some people are even suggesting that electronic votes were flipped between Sanders and Clinton (the Mayor of Phoenix has even called for a federal investigation). Really, though, even just going off the projections of delegates based of the reported precincts just before noon today from FiveThirtyEight, Sanders is on track to get the majority of pledged delegates by June 14.


As I mentioned in my last post, Clinton was likely to peak soon, probably at the latest on Saturday when Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington choose their delegates. It looks like she may, in fact, have peaked on March 15. This weekend Democrats Abroad announced the results of their primary contests, which were conducted in person at 56 locations worldwide, and also by mail and e-mail. Sanders received the majority of votes in 53 locations, with Clinton winning only Nigeria, Singapore, and the Dominican Republic. Sanders won the overall vote 69% to 31%, and took away 9 pledged delegates to Clinton's 4.

Yesterday Arizona and Utah had primary elections, and Idaho held a Democratic caucus. Between them, 132 delegates were at stake. With commanding leads in Utah and Idaho (79%/20% and 78%/21%), Sanders got 45 delegates to Clinton's 11. Arizona has been counted as a victory for Clinton (although, as I mentioned above, there are questions about that election's legitimacy), but even with that victory, Clinton could not make up for the huge drubbing she received in the more northerly states. Based on FiveThirtyEights's calculations (the AP actually gives Sanders one more delegate while leaving two undecided as I am writing this), Clinton got 46 delegates and Sanders got 29.

All told, since the last Tuesday primary, Sanders has gained 83 delegates to Clinton's 61. He's pulled in 57% of the delegates that have come through since March 15 (this is still using FiveThirtyEight's delegate numbers which haven't been updated since 11:30 this morning and under report Sanders' delegates from yesterday according to the AP). As I said Friday, Sanders needed to win just over 58% of all the remaining delegates after March 15 in order to finish with a majority of pledged delegates after June 14. If the extra delegate the AP has for Sanders out of Arizona is accurate, then Sanders came in with 58.3% of the delegates that have been awarded since March 15.

This puts Sanders right on track to seize the lead pledged delegates on June 7, after California and five other states vote, and as long as he gets at least 4 of the District of Columbia's 20 delegates on June 14 (admittedly, if Clinton's lead among black voters from the Deep South shows up again in DC, it is possible that he might miss the 4-delegate mark), he would enter the convention with a majority of pledged delegates. Obviously, Clinton's lead among the super delegates represents a significant barrier for Sanders, at least in terms of the media narrative, but keep in mind that super delegates haven't voted yet, and no laws or rules require them to stay with the candidate they currently support.

Many of them are elected officials who will be running for reelection at some point. If they go against the will of their constituents, they may have to answer for that at the general election. If they go against the will of the people, they may have to answer for that at the general election. Super delegates will have about six weeks after DC's primary closes to make up their minds who they will vote for at the convention.

And that's assuming that Sanders only performs as well as he has performed on average since March 15 between now and June 14. If his performance improves (at is seems likely to do), then he may well secure a majority of pledged delegates after June 7, before DC even gets a chance to vote. It is almost impossible for Sanders to secure the majority of pledged delegates before June 7. In order to do so, he would need to win 94% of the pledged delegates between now and June 5 when Puerto Rico votes.

So keep that in mind. Even though (if) Clinton peaked on March 15, I can tell you with almost total certainty that she will not be defeated before June 7. This is going to be a long slog.

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