Sunday, March 27, 2016 7:14 am
It was Senator Bernie Sanders big day, his own Super Saturday as he easily won nominating contests in Washington and Hawaii , chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton’s commanding lead in the race to pick the party’s candidate for the White House.
Results for Hawaii are still being awaited, with projections favouring the man from Vermont.
After the results of Washington and Alaska are added to the two candidates delegate list, Sanders has 985 delegates to Clinton’s 1703.
Sanders thus still faces a steep uphill climb to overtake Clinton but the big victories in the West generated more momentum for his upstart campaign and could stave off calls from Democratic leaders that he should wrap up his bid in the name of party unity.
“We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton’s lead and … we have a path to victory,” Sanders told cheering, chanting supporters in Madison, Wisconsin. “It is hard for anybody to deny that our campaign has the momentum.”
Clinton, the former secretary of state, has increasingly turned her attention toward a potential Nov. 8 general election showdown against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, claiming she is on the path to wrapping up the nomination.
Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, needs to win up to two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton, who will keep piling up delegates even when she loses under a Democratic Party system that awards them proportionally in all states.
“These wins will help him raise more funds for the next few weeks but I don’t think it changes the overall equation,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a Clinton supporter. “Hillary Clinton has too big a lead.”
But Sanders has repeatedly said he is staying in the race until the convention, pointing to big crowds at his rallies and high turnout among young and first-time voters as proof of his viability. After raising $140 million, he has the money to fight on as long as he wants.
He has energized the party’s liberal base and young voters with his calls to rein in Wall Street and fight income inequality, a message that resonated in liberal Washington and other Western states. Sanders won in Utah and Idaho earlier this week.
“Don’t let anybody tell you we can’t win the nomination or the general election,” Sanders told supporters in Wisconsin, which holds the next key contest on April 5. “We are going to do both.”
All three contests on Saturday were caucuses, a format that has favoured Sanders because it requires more commitment from voters. They also were in states with fewer of the black and Hispanic voters who have helped fuel Clinton’s lead.