Sanders wins big in Wisconsin, but barely dents Clinton delegate lead

Sanders wins big in Wisconsin, but barely dents Clinton delegate lead
© Getty Images

Bernie SandersBernie SandersDeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' MORE beat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report McCaskill: 'Hypocrisy' for GOP to target Biden nominee's tweets after Trump Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate MORE by more than 100,000 votes in Wisconsin's Democratic primary, securing his seventh win in eight contests and providing more momentum for his presidential campaign ahead of the New York primary.

But in terms of delegates, Sanders's success was more modest.


According to The Associated Press, Clinton will take 36 delegates compared with 47 for Sanders.

Worse, because seven superdelegates from Wisconsin are expected to back Clinton, according to MSNBC, Sanders's big win among voters translates to him emerging with just four more delegates than the former New York senator. 

That means that Sanders is doing little to chip away at Clinton's substantial overall delegate lead.

The winning Democrat needs 2,383 delegates to clinch the presidential nomination. 

Clinton has 1,279 pledged delegates compared to 1,027 for the Vermont senator, according to the AP. 

When superdelegates are included, Clinton's total grows to 1,748 and Sanders's to 1,058.

Sanders and his team have repeatedly argued that they can pull superdelegates — lawmakers and other party officials with a vote at the convention — to their side.

"I think a lot of these superdelegates are going to be saying, 'Which candidate has the momentum? Which one brings out huge numbers?'" Sanders said at a victory rally Tuesday night in Laramie, Wyo. "We have a path toward victory, a path toward the White House, and Wyoming can give us a huge boost forward if we win here on Saturday." 

But there has been little movement so far, and the Clinton team is confident it will keep its superdelegates.

Sanders would have to win about 60 percent of the outstanding pledged delegates just to win more pledged delegates than Clinton. And even that would be difficult because the Democratic Party only awards delegates proportionally instead of allowing states to be winner-take-all.  

That means that Sanders would have to repeatedly rout Clinton to make a serious dent in her pledged delegate lead. 

Clinton, on the other hand, would need to win just under 40 percent of the outstanding pledged delegates to secure a victory with her current superdelegate support.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver insisted on CNN that neither candidate would reach the 2,383 delegates required to lock up the nomination before the convention. 

That would put the race into the hands of the superdelegates.

"The Democrats are going to an open convention," Weaver declared.  

The next contest is the Wyoming caucuses on Saturday, where only 14 delegates are at play. 

The real test for Sanders's momentum will come during New York's April 19 primary, when 247 delegates will be up for grabs. Both Clinton and Sanders have ties to the state — he was born there, while she represented New York in the Senate — but Clinton has the lead in polls.

For Sanders to cut into Clinton's lead, he'll need a massive margin of victory in the delegate-rich state.