Opinion: Sanders may be resonating, but faces difficult odds

Matthew Chernesky is a junior political science major and a member of the Kent State College Democrats. Contact him at mchernes@kent.edu.

Matthew Chernesky is a junior political science major and a member of the Kent State College Democrats. Contact him at [email protected]

If you are paying any attention to the race for the Democratic presidential candidacy, you may believe that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is still a strong competitor for the nomination. However, this isn’t entirely accurate.

Sanders has won most of the recent primaries and caucuses, including the latest battleground of Wisconsin. He has cut into Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lead in New York, the next major state in the primary process. He has also begun focusing on California, which both campaigns are regarding as a must-win.

However, his pathway to the nomination is—at this point—dependent on a collapse of the Clinton campaign. Providing that she is not indicted or faces a major scandal, Clinton is very likely to have enough delegates going into the Democratic National Convention to be nominated on the first ballot.

Even if Clinton loses New York—which is very unlikely—Sanders would have to rack up immense margins of victory in every remaining state to overcome her nearly insurmountable pledged delegate lead, which is larger now than at any time during the 2008 primary.

The Sanders campaign has been debating a new strategy: courting superdelegates. Superdelegates are selected party activists, party leaders and elected Democratic officeholders who are not chained to the popular votes of their districts or states.

Clinton has a massive lead: According to FiveThirtyEight, which tracks endorsements and assigns a point value to them, she currently leads Sanders 490 to 13.

Although the system is regarded by many liberal activists as undemocratic, it is far more fair than the Republican primary, which permits states to assign all of their delegates to the winner of the popular vote—and, in regard to delegates, forces party leaders to run against local activists, which weakens the influence of the average voter.

The Democratic primary, in comparison, awards even the loser of the primary or caucus delegates and also separates party leaders from the typical Democratic voters.

Sanders may be hoping that he: flips the popular vote, which currently favors Clinton by over two million votes; flips the delegate vote, which is incredibly difficult because of the proportional way that Democratic delegates are assigned; or three, create such a momentum against Clinton that he flips superdelegate support away from her and to him. Each of these three scenarios are very unlikely to occur, barring some unforeseen disaster for the Clinton campaign.

I will acknowledge that Sanders has been waging a very competitive campaign that few imagined would have occurred. He has brought to the forefront many prominent and progressive issues, and is inspiring young and new voters to get involved in the electoral process.

As a result, I believe that Sanders should continue running. In the meanwhile, we should stress the importance of strengthening the Democratic Party and committing to support our eventual nominee—be that Clinton or Sanders—so that we retain the White House in November. 

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kent State College Democrats as an organization.