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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sanders Wins West Virginia

Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia Primary by roughly 15 points.  It is not enough to stay on pace even to win a majority of pledge delegates, let alone pass Clinton's lead including superdelegates.  Bernie, however, continues to defeat Clinton in virtually every State without a large African American population.

Clinton won West Virginia eight years ago.  Part of that may have been racism against candidate Obama.  Her loss this year may have more to do with her comments about killing coal mining jobs.  It seems odd though since Sanders largely supports the same environmental policies.  I suspect the Sanders win here was more of a protest vote against Clinton.

Whatever the reason, Sanders continues to narrow Clinton's lead, though not enough to change the outcome. Sanders picked up 16 pledged delegates to Clinton's 11.  Just to stay on track pass Clinton in pledged delegates, Sanders would have needed an 18 delegate victory.  This win just makes his requirements even harder for the next race.  Before the race, 6 of the 8 State superdelegates announced support for Clinton.

Interestingly, Clinton also won the vote in Nebraska yesterday by 20 points.  The Democratic Nebraska Primary was widely unreported because it was meaningless.  Voters got the chance to express their preference for Clinton, but no delegates were awarded.  This is what is known as a "beauty contest".  The will of the voters is expressed, but is not considered for delegates.  The State held a caucus two months ago where it awarded 15 delegates to Sanders and 10 to Clinton.  Sanders has been much more effective in getting voters to show up for participation in time consuming caucuses than  he is when there is a simple vote.  That was clearly the case in Nebraska.  Perhaps yesterday's primary results give Nebraska's three super delegates confirmation that their pledge to support Clinton is justified by their voters.

Next week Clinton and Sanders move on to races in Kentucky and Oregon. Liberal Oregon may be a place Sanders can have an even larger win.  But it is increasingly obvious that it will be too little too late.

Trump, now unopposed, also won victories in West Virginia and Nebraska yesterday, garnering another 67 delegates in those two winner take all races.  Despite no active challengers, Trump only won 61% of the vote in Nebraska.  Anti-Trump sentiment remains a substantial challenge for the presumptive nominee.

Trump also faces a primary in Oregon next week, followed by a primary in Washington State the following week.

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