Markos Moulitsas: Is it game over for Sanders?

Markos Moulitsas: Is it game over for Sanders?

Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDe Blasio headed to Iowa to speak at political fundraiser Yes, spills happen — but pipelines are still the safest way to move oil Why sexual harassment discussions include lawmakers talking about Bill Clinton’s past MORE went further this primary season than some might have imagined at the outset, but despite his significant accomplishments, his race to the White House is over. Democrats will head into November with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE as their standard-bearer to face off against Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump Right way and wrong way Five things to know about the elephant trophies controversy MORE (assuming he survives an attempted coup by his party’s establishment).

In short, there is no plausible route for Sanders to overcome the advantage Clinton enjoyed of 319 pledged delegates before Tuesday’s contests. Since the former first lady leads the pledged delegate race 58 percent to 42 percent, with roughly half of the delegates to take the nomination already allocated, Sanders would have to win nearly 60 percent of delegates in the remaining states just to tie her. 

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That’s just not going to happen.

Clinton beat Sanders in the South on the strength of the region’s Democratic base: African-Americans. She beat him in Hispanic-heavy states like Nevada and Florida. She beat him in white-dominated industrial states like Ohio. In fact, she’s beaten him just about everywhere Democrats came out to vote in numbers — of the nine states the Vermont senator has won, five have been low-turnout, undemocratic caucuses. While Sanders has gotten an impressive 6.3 million votes this cycle, Clinton has far outpaced him, with 8.7 million votes. 

Just like Howard Dean taught us 10 years ago, you can’t build a meaningful progressive campaign without the support of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians. 

Now, it’s true that the second half of the primary schedule looks far more favorable to Sanders than the first half was. Most of the South has already voted, diminishing the role of African-American voters in the months ahead. Caucuses in Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, Wyoming and Washington should favor Sanders, as well as primaries in less diverse places like Oregon and Utah. But he would still need to perform exceedingly well in states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, winning them all by an average of 16 points. Anything less than that — anywhere — and his necessary victory margins down the line get that much larger. 

In short, while there is still a mathematical path to victory for Sanders, it’s not a realistic one. Clinton never trailed Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Right way and wrong way Keystone XL pipeline clears major hurdle despite recent leak MORE by anything more than around 150 delegates at any point during the 2008 primaries. And that race wasn’t particularly close. 

So the Sanders campaign is left to make dangerous suppositions about its path to victory. “We acknowledge it’s a difficult route; we acknowledge it’s a substantial lead, but we do not believe it’s set in stone,” Sanders adviser Tad Devine said after Sanders’s 0-5 performance last Tuesday. “The factors superdelegates will take into consideration include who’s won more pledged delegates ... but also who’s gotten stronger, not weaker, over the course of primaries, and who matches up best against Donald Trump or whoever the Republican nominee is.”

In short, the Sanders campaign is now making the same argument it was decrying just a few months ago — that Democratic superdelegates should subvert the choice of the Democratic electorate to hand the nomination to the primary loser. It was an absurd argument when Clinton made it in 2008, and it’s no less absurd today. And if anyone was a beneficiary of such usurpation of the will of the voters, it certainly wouldn’t be an outsider like Sanders. 

Sanders is obviously free to stay in the race so long as his supporters keep funding his efforts. But no one should get angry when the rest of the party starts focusing on the Trump threat. 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.