Sanders crushes Clinton in Wisconsin

Bernie Sanders blew by Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary, winning 56% of the vote to Clinton's 43%.  The increasingly bitter contest now moves to Wyoming on Saturday, where Democrats will caucus to chose a nominee.

It was Sanders's seventh win out of the last eight primaries and caucuses – most of the wins by double digits.  His run has Clinton scrambling to retarget her campaign, choosing to make a stand in New York.  Where once she bragged about wrapping up the primary contest by March, Clinton will be fortunate to gain the majority of delegates by late April or early May.

But the chances of Sanders catching up in the delegate count are virtually zero.  All Democratic primary and caucus delegates are awarded proportionally – no "winner take all" contests.  So even though Sanders had a smashing win in Wisconsin, he won only six more delegates than Clinton did.  Clinton still holds a nearly 700-delegate lead on Sanders thanks to her almost total dominance in gaining the support of superdelegates.  Given the math facing the Vermont senator, whatever momentum he has picked up in Wisconsin will be psychological only.


Fresh off a string of blowout wins across the West, Wisconsin was largely seen as tailor-made for Sanders. After Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses, the race shifts to New York, a delegate-rich state where both campaigns are playing to win.

The triumph in Wisconsin is likely to give the Brooklyn-born candidate another burst of momentum heading into the April 19 primary in New York, where he has a chance to reset the race if he can upset Clinton in the state she represented for eight years in the Senate.

Don't tell Clinton, Sanders joked, but "I believe we have a chance to win New York and a lot of delegates in that state."

Clinton's campaign had been aggressively lowering expectations in Wisconsin. Allies of the Democratic front-runner insisted a defeat would not materially damage Clinton given her strong lead on Sanders (she's ahead by roughly 230 delegates, or 600 including superdelegates).

Wisconsin awards its 86 pledged delegates on a proportional basis, which ensures neither candidate will net a large delegate haul.

Wisconsin is a state that favors him. It is much less diverse than most of the states we compete in in Democratic primaries. It’s got a lower population of African-Americans, a very small population of Latinos,” Clinton’s chief pollster and strategist Joel Benenson told MSNBC on Monday, setting the bar for expectations Tuesday night.

Clinton’s campaign, Benenson remarked, has “done very well in building a diverse coalition, which is why we’ve won far more primary elections than Sen. Sanders has and compiled a bigger net delegate lead in those primaries by a lot, than he has.”

For Sanders to have a breath of life in his campaign, the superdelegates are going to have to switch almost en masse from Clinton to him.  Given Clinton's stranglehold on the national party apparatus, this is not going to happen.  Superdelegates are chosen precisely for their loyalty to Hillary.  There would have to be a total collapse by Clinton for Sanders to pick up many superdelegates.

Sanders raised $44 million last month, so he has plenty of cash to make life miserable for Clinton.  His supporters seem perfectly content for him to continue bashing Clinton, the rich, the Republicans, and America with equal fervor.  In short, Sanders will be a thorn in Clinton's side – but that's about it.  He is not really a threat to steal the nomination from her.

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