The polls and pundits predicted that Sen. Bernie Sanders would win the West Virginia primary Tuesday, and they were right. But, as they also noted, the victory did little to close the gap between him and Hillary Clinton, who has a decisive lead in delegates.
Sanders defeated Clinton by a double-digit margin, 51 percent to 36, gathering 16 of the delegates to Clinton’s 11. The rest will be determined later according to district results. Even so, Clinton has a commanding number of delegates with approximately 150 needed to reach the goal of 2,383, if the super delegates are included. She also leads Sanders in total votes and the number of primaries and caucuses, 25 to 20.
But the numbers have not dissuaded Sanders. “We now have won primaries and caucuses in 19 states,” Sanders said at a rally in Salem, Oregon Tuesday evening. “Let me be as clear as I can be. We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination.”
During previous interviews, Sanders has vowed to stay in the race to influence the Democratic platform at the convention in July in Philadelphia. The recent victories, however, have put him back on his original message to win the race. “While we have many disagreements with Secretary Clinton,” he added, “there is one area where we agree and that is we must defeat Donald Trump.”
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has certainly been on Clinton’s mind and agenda. And even more so after recent polls show them in a virtual dead heat in such important swing states as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.
All of which is additional fodder for Sanders’ claim that he is the best candidate to defeat Trump. His numbers against the real estate magnate are much better than Clinton’s.
“The right wing never gives up attacking me,” Clinton said about Trump and the GOP. “I think they are really going to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, this time. I have a message for them: They have done it for 25 years, and I am still standing.”
Vice President Joe Biden told a reporter that he believes Clinton will be the nominee, “and I think she will be the next president,” he said. Most of New York’s elected Democrats agree, and they will probably be the strongest, unwavering super delegates for her.
Meanwhile, on the electoral horizon are California and New Jersey, and Sanders and Clinton, though mindful of Trump’s threat, have not taken their eyes off of the Democratic prize.