Can Bernie Win?

Roy Tsao

Bernie supporters, mostly young, educated, and white, are vigilantly keeping faith that Bernie still has a chance to win the Democratic nomination. They say that while he is behind, the more conservative states have already voted and “the West coast and New England are #feelingtheBern.” Others say that his primary results as of current put him too far behind Hillary in the race, and his extremist views are not doing him any favors. At this point one can argue both ways using the primary results as a predictor. So, can Bernie Sanders Still win the primary election?


Yes He Can!

Everyone is saying it: “Bernie Sanders has no chance of winning the Democratic Primary”. Well, not everyone, just non-Bernie supporters and the Media. In fact, Sanders gets 20 seconds of media coverage for every 81 minutes Donald Trump gets. [1] The Inquisitr argues that Sanders is ignored for his consistency and lack of contradictory, hypocritical statements. If we were to just look at the media, then we would infer that Sanders is completely out of the race, however this is not the case.

Hillary Clinton currently has 1243 pledged delegates (march 29th), 268 more than Sanders’ 975. The media is arguing that since Clinton has over 400 super delegates, she’s a clear, unquestionable, unbeatable favorite. Super delegates can switch their votes at the time of the election to align with the popular vote, and are not required to vote for the person they pledged before the committee. In 2008, Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner at a time, led Obama by a 2 to 1 ratio in super delegates. After one of their debates, a huge amount of super delegates chose to vote for Obama, thus giving him the super delegate lead. Of course, this could happen to Bernie Sanders. [2] Over the past weekend, Sanders won three states, combining to win over 70% of the vote.[3] Lastly, Sanders has done very well in caucuses. Out of the 11 states he outperformed in, 8 of them help caucuses. If Sanders can now start winning more primaries, mobilizing voters, and catching media attention, he stands a chance to win the primaries. [4]


Nope, Bernie Can’t Win


While Bernie has been gaining momentum in recent weeks, winning Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska, he has a fundamental math problem. If he is to get the Democratic nomination, he will need to win—assuming no super delegates switch from Hillary to Bernie—67.3% of the remaining delegates. Hillary only needs 32.7% of the remaining delegates.[5]

Mathematically, it will be almost impossible for Bernie to catch Hillary—he would need to win States by much larger margins than he has been. Based on the demographics of future races given the trend of past races, FiveThirtyEight predicts that Hillary will likely win the nomination by 400 or 500 votes—in other words, not even close.[6]

Some might argue that super delegates could switch from Hillary to Bernie and fundamentally change this mathematical picture. However, this is unlikely for at least two reasons. First, Bernie is much less attractive to establishment politicians, compared to President Obama. As a result, they will have a much harder time switching their votes to a Democratic socialist from Vermont than they did for the neo-Liberal upstart from Chicago. Second, the Clinton’s are known to hold political grudges. At the moment, it seems Hillary will likely be the next President. For super delegates to switch their votes could potentially jeopardize the rest of their political careers.

Prediction markets back up these arguments—giving Sanders on a 9% chance of being the Party nominee.


Those who believe Bernie can come back blame media for portraying Bernie as unelectable or  just not really talking about him because he does not come to the table with newsworthy stories like Trump or Hillary do. They think he still has a chance with the remaining delegates and that delegates might have a change of mind and will switch their votes. People shoot these die-hard Bernie supporters down by saying it is unlikely that delegates will switch their vote and it is numerically “impossible for him to win at this point. Bernie is a Democratic socialist who is just too far left for him to gain the votes against Hillary in this current political environment. So, it comes down to a faith vs. reality you think Bernie still has a chance?







[5] According to numbers from Google’s Democratic Primary Tracker.



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