On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton picked up where she left off last week, winning the Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware primaries, failing only in Rhode Island. Looking at the map, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy is an exercise in futility; staring at the delegate count it’s more like the impossible dream.
Candidate Clinton is holding an almost insurmountable 800-plus delegate lead, and the upcoming political terrain doesn’t appear any more favorable to her challenger. Clinton should do well in Indiana, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, New Mexico, New Jersey, California, and the District of Columbia. For Bernie, the arithmetic says “party over, out of time.”
Indeed, some of Clinton’s wins were almost Trumpian in margin, as the ex-Secretary of State cleared 60 percent in Maryland, and hovered near that mark in Delaware. As she has done before, Clinton stitched together a polychromatic upstairs-downstairs coalition, just as Barack Obama did in 2008.
In Maryland and Pennsylvania, Clinton won the majority of votes cast by whites and minorities alike. In Connecticut, she captured nearly two-thirds of those with incomes over $200,000. New York City’s bedroom communities of Fairfield and Greenwich made the difference for Clinton.
Much as Clinton may rail against the rich for not paying their fair share of taxes, it is the wealthy who have kept her in the game. Democrats who commute daily to Wall Street had the final say in the Nutmeg State. Tellingly, Clinton ran best along Long Island Sound, Cheever Country, the very route that hauls precious human cargo into Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal daily, and the very places where George H.W. Bush grew up.
While Democrats don’t give Clinton the highest grades for empathy or honesty, they have repeatedly rewarded her for her electability and experience. For the moment, polls show that may be enough for Clinton to defeat either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
As for Sanders, he continued to run well with young Democrats, and white voters without college degrees. But as was the case in New York, being the beer track candidate is not enough if you’re looking for the win.
Like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, Sanders sounds determined to trudge onward to July’s Democratic Convention. Unlike Clinton who ended her 2008 quest after winning the California Primary, Sanders refuses to take “no” for an answer, acting as if his candidacy were about something larger than himself.
Speaking to his supporters in West Virginia as the results rolled in, Sanders rehashed the trajectory of his campaign, and stressed that he was outperforming Clinton when pitted against the Republican field. But Sanders also went well beyond talking about process, and devoted his speech to the themes of inequality, and how being wealthy translates into a markedly better and longer life.
In West Virginia, that is a message that will likely resonate for Sanders in the state’s upcoming primary. For the record, West Virginia is the whitest state in the Union, and it is also among the nation’s poorest. Unfortunately for Sanders, few of the remaining primary states match West Virginia’s demographics
At this juncture, Sanders appears determined to leave his mark on the Democratic Platform, where his take on minimum wage, taxation, access to college, and the Middle East can all expect a hearing, thereby pitting the policy preferences of the Democrats’ voting base against the wishes of the party’s financial benefactors. To be sure, Sanders will have his day either before or at the convention.
Clinton may despise him, but Sanders is a valuable commodity as he has turned a presumed coronation into a battle. He has out fundraised Clinton, and built an enviable network of fans. Sanders’ supporters genuinely like him. Sanders also connects with non-Democrats.
In Connecticut, Sanders received 75 percent of the vote among independents, who made up a fifth of the Democratic electorate. For independents who decided to pick up a ballot and were untempted by Trump, Sanders was an attractive option—unlike Clinton.
For Hillary Clinton, the Acela Primaries ended well; for Bernie Sanders not so much. Still, the prophesies of Clinton’s handlers have not come to pass. It’s the end of April and Clinton is still locked in a battle. Expect to be reading about both of them through July, as spring will eventually give way to summer.
Lloyd Green was an alternate delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention, opposition research counsel to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign, and served in the Department of Justice between 1990 and 1992.