(JTA) — Hillary Rodham Clinton won decisively on Super Tuesday, but failed to sweep all the states at stake on the biggest day of the presidential primaries.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., won four state Democratic contests, giving him a total of five after he took New Hampshire last month.
Is this the beginning of the end for Sanders?
It’s not just the number of states Clinton won on Tuesday that now makes a Sanders path to the nomination more prohibitive, it’s the breadth of her wins. Gaps like her 56 percentage points to his 35 in Virginia, 59-33 in Tennessee and 66-29 in Georgia are daunting to say the least.
Clinton now commands more than a thousand of the 2,383 delegates needed for the nomination, while Sanders is at 408.
At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky, a liberal columnist, advised Sanders to realize that it’s essentially over, and that his rationale for staying in the race would be to influence Clinton rather than destroy her.
“From here on in, Sanders ought to lay off the attacks on Hillary Clinton, the Goldman Sachs speeches and all the rest. Eventually, he’s going to lose. She’s going to win. He can do it in a way that burnishes his standing in the party he’s decided to be a member of and that makes him a pivotally powerful senator during a potential Clinton presidency. Or he can do it in a way that damages her reputation and ultimately his own,” he wrote.
Sanders’ speech, in Burlington, Vermont, suggested that he may be receptive to that approach. He included a single, gentle, jab at Clinton about her claim that he thinks “too big,” but trained most of his fire on Republicans. Tellingly, he also, poignantly, looked back to the launch of his campaign rather than to his victory, and seemed to embrace his candidacy as a vehicle for influencing the race as opposed to winning it.
“What I have said from day one in this campaign and I suspect many of you were down on the lake with me when we announced on that beautiful day, what I have said is that this campaign is not just about electing a president. It is about making a political revolution. What that revolution is about is bringing millions of millions of people into the political process. Working people who have been so disillusioned, they no longer vote. Young people who have never been involved,” he said.
Yet Sanders is already campaigning in Maine, which has 30 delegates, ahead of the March 6 caucuses, where he has a New England advantage. Clinton is slated to win the March 5 primary in Louisiana with 59 delegates, where she is leading by 40 points in polls.
Further down the line, Sanders has proven adept at winning the votes of younger voters, particularly university students, while Clinton is well ahead of him among minorities.
That leaves working class whites a possible battleground for Sanders. Clinton excelled with this constituency in 2008 when she lost to Barack Obama, but Sanders’ message focusing hard on income inequality appealed to working Democrats in Nevada last month, allowing him to mount a serious challenge. Clinton won the state by five points.
Working class whites will be important in states with huge delegate counts like Michigan (March 8), where the candidates will debate on Sunday, as well as Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio (all March 15), Arizona (March 22), Washington (March 26) and Wisconsin (April 5.)
According to aggregations of recent polls by RealClear Politics, Clinton leads Sanders in Michigan, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio. Only in Wisconsin are they in a dead heat.