Hillary Clinton builds likely insurmountable delegate lead despite four Sanders wins | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton builds likely insurmountable delegate lead despite four Sanders wins

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2016 at 7:59 AM

BIG NIGHT: Clinton wins seven out of eleven states on Super Tuesday.
  • BIG NIGHT: Clinton wins seven out of eleven states on Super Tuesday.

All sorts of people have used this joke but it's the best description I can think of: "Democrats fall in line, Republicans fall apart." 

Hillary Clinton was Mrs. Inevitable once upon a time until the insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders. After last night, it really is inevitable: Clinton is the presumptive nominee.  

Here's the results with nearly all precincts reporting, via the New York Times:

click to enlarge hillary_and_sanders.png

Clinton won seven out of eleven states (plus American Samoa) but the key for her was the margins of victory. She got mammoth wins across the South, once again dominating Sanders among black voters. Sanders mounted a much greater challenge to Clinton than anyone would have predicted a year ago, but he simply wasn't able to gather broad enough support across the Democratic coalition. In Arkansas, Clinton beat her polling averages for the state and nabbed 66 percent of the vote, a slightly smaller share than she did in beating Barack Obama in Arkansas in 2008.

Relative to expectations, Sanders actually had a pretty good night. He lost Massachusetts in a squeaker, a real blow (that's the kind of state he had to win and win big if he was to have any hope of being more than a protest candidate and winning the nomination). But in addition to his home state of Vermont, he won in the other three states that looked gettable for him — Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. He won big in the first two and the win in Oklahoma was the kind of thing that might have been taken as a signal of making ground nationally...if not for the results elsewhere. 

Clinton got 3.3 million votes across the Super Tuesday states, compared to 2 million for Sanders. Based on the count so far, Clinton won 453 delegates to Sanders' 284. The total delegate count now stands at 544-349. That's just the delegates won. If you count superdelegates, Clinton is up 1,000-371 and is nearly halfway to the 2,382 she needs to secure victory (superdelegates can change their minds but 457 have pledged support to Clinton compared to 22 for Sanders). 

Because of the Democrats' proportional rules for delegate allocation, that's an insurmountable lead. Sanders would have to not just win, but blow Clinton out, in multiple states to come. Given her polling leads and continued dominance among black voters, that's not going to happen.

Here's Harry Enten at fivethirtyeight

We’ve now seen 15 states vote in the Democratic contest, and it’s clear that Clinton’s coalition is wider than Sanders’s. Sanders has won only in relatively small states where black voters make up less than 10 percent of the population. That’s not going to work this year when black voters are likely to make up more than 20 percent of Democratic primary voters nationwide.

On Tuesday, we saw why. As she did in Nevada and South Carolina, Clinton won huge margins of black voters. Her worst performance was in Oklahoma, where 71 percent of black voters in the Democratic primary chose her. In Alabama, she won 93 percent of black voters on her way to winning 78 percent of Democrats overall. Clinton took no less than 64 percent of the overall vote in the southern states she won.

It wasn’t just just black voters, either: Clinton dominated with Hispanics in Texas. There had been some questions about how Hispanics voted in Nevada, but there was little doubt in Texas. The exit poll showed Clinton with a 42 percentage point win among Hispanics, about the margin she won in counties such as Hidalgo, where Hispanics make up 91 percent of the population. Those results bode well for Clinton in states such as Arizona, California, Florida and New Mexico.

The end result is that Clinton will now have a substantial delegate lead. ...

This lead is pretty much insurmountable. Democrats award delegates proportionally, which means Sanders would need to win by big margins in the remaining states to catch up. He hasn’t seen those kinds of wins outside of his home state of Vermont and next-door New Hampshire. Consider the case of Massachusetts: My colleague Nate Silver’s model had Sanders winning the state by 11 percentage points if the race were tied nationally and by 3 points based on the FiveThirtyEight polling average last week. Instead, Sanders lost by nearly 2 percentage points.

Sanders will still stay in the race until the convention in order to try to push the debate to the left and give a megaphone to issues of inequality. He will no doubt have a major role at the convention and the Clinton campaign would be wise to use him as a surrogate to reach out to young voters who have thus far stayed away from Clinton.  

Clinton, meanwhile, has to be licking her chops at the total chaos in the GOP. She aimed her sights at Trump in her victory speech, saying we need to "make America whole again." Trump is really the perfect foil and the Republican party is in the midst of trying to tear him down months before the general election. Politicians would be fools to underestimate Trump at this point, but in a general election, it's hard to think of a better opponent to fire up the Democratic base. 

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