The end of the road for Bernie
I wrote three weeks ago that May would be a good month for Bernie, but an even better month for Hillary. The month went as planned: Sanders picked up predicted wins in Indiana, West Virginia, and Oregon, and suffered a narrow loss in Kentucky.
Those wins aside, Sanders started May needing 65% of the remaining pledged delegates to attain a pledged delegate majority. He ends the month in an even worse position delegate-wise, needing 68% of all remaining pledged delegates to attained a pledged majority (Accounting for super delegates already supporting a candidate, that number skyrockets to 91% of all remaining delegates).
If May was a good month for Bernie, June will be structurally abysmal, and the official end of his primary campaign.
Before I dive into model predictions for the upcoming primary states, let’s just take a quick look back at the last week, in which voters in Kentucky and Oregon went to the polls. In my post last month I laid out the model predictions for Sanders vote share in both states: with the model showing Sanders losing Kentucky narrowly with 47% of the vote and having a decent 59% win in Oregon. The model wound up nailing Sanders’ vote in Kentucky, while he underperformed slightly in Oregon (around 56% of the vote, at latest count). Overall, the demographic fundamentals continue hold up as the best predictors for state primary outcomes.
Now, to look forward to June as the Democratic primary comes to a close. First up are district caucuses on Saturday, June 4 in the Virgin Islands and a primary in Puerto Rico the following day.
Tuesday, June 7 essentially concludes the primary season (with the exception of the Washington, D.C. primary the following week) for the Democrats. The model points to South Dakota and Montana as the best bets for Sanders to pick up wins. He’s significantly weaker in the remaining three states voting that day, which are also the states that hold the largest remaining numbers of pledged delegates: California, New Jersey, and New Mexico.
As it stands today, Hillary Clinton needs just 90 delegates to secure the nomination. If she secures the endorsement of roughly two dozen super delegates between now and June 7 it’s actually feasible she secures the nomination with Puerto Rico, before the five states on that date even vote. Even if she doesn’t, she will assuredly secure it on June 7 when 676 pledged delegates are up for grabs.
There is no doubt it will be mathematically impossible for Bernie Sanders to secure the Democratic nomination after the first week in June. Frankly, it’s been overwhelmingly and ever-increasingly implausible since March. But with the model predicting a good showing for Clinton through the remainder of the primary states, Hillary Clinton will be able to wrap up the nomination with force.