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Bernie Sanders currently has 1,399 delegates (counting both pledged and superdelegates). The Democratic candidate needs 2,383 delegates in order to win at the convention. For Sanders, 2,383 minus 1,399 equals 984. Sanders needs 984 additional delegates.

If you add up all the available delegates in the remaining primaries, there are now a total of 933. Unfortunately for Sanders, 933 is less than 984.

As Politico puts it “it’s now mathematically impossible for him to reach the magic number for the Democratic nomination by winning the remaining pledged delegates alone.”

That’s right. Even if Sanders wins every single remaining pledged delegate (extremely unlikely, as Democratic primaries are all proportional), his only path to victory involves convincing a large number of superdelegates to change their minds and vote for him. That is also highly unlikely, and gives Sanders the hypocritical (albeit required) goal of winning over the superdelegates that he has repeatedly mocked as being undemocratic.

Last night, Sanders again claimed “I think that while the path is narrow — and I do not deny that for a moment — I think we can pull off one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.”

Yes, that will be a political upset, but it won’t be great, coming at the expense of the democratic values that Sanders professes to love. Clinton leads in raw vote (she now has over 3 million more votes than Sanders in the primaries), in pledged delegates (she has 321 more pledged delegates than Sanders), not to mention a huge lead in superdelegates (520 to 39).

Sanders argues that the superdelegates should overrule the voters and switch their allegiance to him because he has a better chance of winning over Trump. Even if that were true (and prior to the convention, polls about hypothetical general election match-ups are notoriously unreliable), the reason why the superdelegates are so strongly in favor of Clinton is because they believe she has a better chance of winning against Trump. Even more importantly, they believe she will be better for the other Democratic races. Sanders has been good at raising money for himself, but he has done nothing for other candidates, while most of the money that gets raised at the expensive fundraising dinners that Clinton appears at (and Sanders mocks) will go to the Democratic party and not to Clinton’s campaign (because of the $2,700 limit on contributions to a candidate’s campaign).

The fight now is not about who will be the Democratic nominee for president. The bigger fight for the Democrats is about Congress. The Democrats need to take over the Senate and win as many seats in the House as possible in order to overcome GOP obstructionism and get anything done (let alone enacting any progressive legislation).

If internal bickering hands over the presidency to Trump along with a Republican Congress (which will then hand over the Supreme Court), it will be a very sad day for the Democrats, and Sanders should know that.



  1. Arthanyel wrote:

    Unfortunately this continues the political machine propaganda. The math is wrong. It assumes that all super delegates currently “pledged” to Hillary in defiance of their OWN STATES VOTES will continue to defy the wishes of their constituents.

    Bernie is significantly behind in actual delegates and it will be difficult to over come that – he would need to win California by 25 points or more for sure and it’s highly improbable.

    But not impossible YET.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Arthanyel, in order for your argument to make any sense mathematically, it would require the state superdelegates to follow a “winner take all” scenario of all voting for whomever won a majority of the popular vote in their state. That is not democratic.

    It also ignores the national vote, where Clinton also leads. Arguing that the national vote doesn’t count (because of the electoral college) is a very funny argument for the Sanders campaign to make.

    538 did a good analysis of this. If all delegates (including superdelegates) were allocated proportionally at the state level, Clinton would have a few more delegates than she has now.

    If the Democrats used the GOP rules (including some states being “winner take all”), then Clinton would have even more delegates.

    538 points out that the current primary rules have actually favored Sanders (and Trump). Trying to game them at this point is just desperation.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:33 am | Permalink
  3. ThatGuy wrote:

    “Sanders has been good at raising money for himself, but he has done nothing for other candidates…”

    Actually, this is untrue. Since at least last month the Sanders campaign has been offering donors a chance to split their contributions to him with some downballot progressive candidates.

    “…it would require the state superdelegates to follow a “winner take all” scenario of all voting for whomever won a majority of the popular vote in their state. That is not democratic.”

    Vice completely ignoring their constituents (see NH), which is democratic? While “winner take all” is certainly less ideal than representational awards… isn’t it still more democratic than “haha, your votes don’t matter” by at least a little bit?

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  4. Robert Brown wrote:

    The thing is, is that no sane evaluation of the contest this fall could say that Clinton is a better choice against Trump. First the matchup polls have consistently said otherwise, and while they are not reliable, they are certainly consistent on this matter and have been for quite some time.

    But who cares about that: either candidate can beat trump handily because trump is trump and he can’t even solidify republicans behind him.

    The real issue is the house/senate races, and turnout. Bernie sanders has much less vitriol aimed at him from the conservative base… they don’t like his policies but they don’t think he’s intentionally out to manipulate government into policies to support his friends, and that goes a long way to dampen the fear reflex.

    Clinton has been the conservative focus of rage for more than 20 years now. Literally she is a litmus test for conservative hatred. They not only don’t like her policies, they are convinced that she is next to the coming of the anti-christ.

    With bernie and trump on the ticket, there is no rational doubt that a larger number of those folks stay home in the fall. Some may come out, vote third party and go primarily for the house/senate races. But there is no way enthusiasm/motivation for the conservatives will be nearly as high as it will be with Clinton on the ticket. She lights their fire in a way no other modern politician, not even Obama, can.

    The democrats are right now ensuring that they have the toughest possible battle for the house/senate seats they need in the fall. It’s a shame. We could have had a clear victory for serious progressive values in both branches and really started moving things in the right direction. Now we’ve lost that for the presidency (even if clinton wins, her “progressive” credentials require orwellian amounts of doublespeak to justify in the face of her actual voting record and stated policy support), and much more likely the house/senate as well.

    Sometimes I wonder who the yahoos are who come up with democratic strategy. Here in maine the party succumbs to the same establishment-driven idiocy on a regular basis, like pulling a seated senator to run a milquetoast campaign against gov. lepage in a race they knew from the get go would include a strong left of center independent candidate (and final matchup polls showed the independent could have won in a head to head race, while the democrat never showed that at all).

    Sad to the see the national party has no better grasp on reality than the locals here do. Too busy considering the campaign donors I suppose.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink
  5. Arthanyel wrote:

    IK – it is not in any way necessary to have super delegates allocated in a “winner take all” scenario for Bernie to have a path to the nomination. Nor is it necessary to change the rules. Just allocate the super delegates in the same proportion as their ACTUAL state delegate distribution, based on the ACTUAL results.

    Again, Bernie winning is highly improbable. He has to win all the remaining primaries by significant margins, especially in California. And while he may be able to eke out an upset like he did in Indiana despite Hillary being far ahead in the polls, that wouldn’t be enough.

    I am not saying Bernie is likely to win – nor am I expecting anyone but Hillwry to be the nominee. I am just taking issue with the “mathematically impossible” propaganda, when in fact it is not impossible at all. Just very difficult.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    So, Sanders is going to allow his supporters to choose to also donate money to three other candidates, but only candidates who have endorsed him? How nice! How many donors have actually taken him up on that?

    Thatguy, it sounds like you are arguing for “winner take all” for the superdelegates, and not proportional allocation. So non-democratic after-the-fact last minute changes are ok as long as they favor your candidate? Can you hear yourself?

    At the risk of repeating myself, the current superdelegate system actually favors Sanders. I know that sounds funny, but if the superdelegates were treated the same as pledged delegates and allocated proportionally to the state vote, then Sanders would have fewer delegates than he has now.

    Arthanyel, I said it is mathematically impossible for Sanders to win the nomination based just on the remaining primaries (pledged delegates only). That is a mathematical fact. It is not “just very difficult”. It is not propaganda. I also stated that he does have a path to victory, but it is not only very very unlikely, it requires hypocrisy on his part.

    Robert Brown, it sounds like you are saying that I am not sane, not rational, and that I have a tenuous grasp of reality. That sounds like name calling to me.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  7. ThatGuy wrote:

    “Thatguy, it sounds like you are arguing for “winner take all” for the superdelegates, and not proportional allocation. So non-democratic after-the-fact last minute changes are ok as long as they favor your candidate? Can you hear yourself?”

    I’m saying that superdelegates being allocated based on how their state voted (either proportionally or winner-take-all) is better and by definition more democratic than their being completely unbound.

    Your original response to Arthanyel said that winner-take-all for superdelegates wouldn’t be democratic. My contention is that the current system is even less-so (i.e. not at all), making discounting his statement on the basis of which is democratic extremely silly.

    I’ll also just point out that in both of my posts I say proportional (representational) awarding of superdelegates is preferable to winner-take-all. Winner-take-all is only preferable when compared to the system as-is, which again, is much less democratic.

    So, yes, I hear myself; and I’ll hold the above views regardless of who the superdelegate system benefits.

    Finally, the 538 article appears to only deal in pledged delegates, not superdelegates. It should be fairly obvious that in a 58ish-42ish percent popular vote that a superdelegate split of 520-39 is not mirroring the democratic process even a little bit.

    TLDR: Yes, winner-take-all for superdelegates based on the results from their state contests is more democratic than a system that completely disregards the vote.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  8. ThatGuy wrote:

    On fundraising: nothing to do really with whether or not it’s “nice.” Just a correction that it isn’t “nothing.”

    Given who the DNC has favored for the big race, I’m not opposed to a bit of curation in terms of who receives campaign donations.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thatguy, you do have a point. I will confess that I did not know about Sanders’s recent attempts to spread the money around to other candidates. So me saying “nothing” was wrong.

    However, I think he could do much better. For now, it just appears that he is doing it only so some superdelegates will endorse him. It is too little, too late.

    Likewise, I think your contention that the current system of superdelegates is “not at all” democratic is too strong as well. Many of the superdelegates (almost a third) are elected representatives, and need I point out that we live in a representative democracy, not a democracy. The rest are party officials, and you do have a choice of being a member of the party or not, or even forming your own party (there were no primaries where people voted for Ross Perot).

    There are good reasons for having superdelegates. I personally think they are not the right solution for the problem they are trying to solve, but the founders definitely did not want the people electing a president, and what they feared has definitely come true with Donald Trump.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  10. Arthanyel wrote:

    IK – don’t promote the propaganda. Here are the actual numbers, directly from RealClear Politics:

    Clinton – 1,682 delegates won (55.27%)
    Sanders – 1,361 delegates won (44.73%)

    Total super delegates(SD) to date = 559

    Clinton proportional SD = 309
    Sanders proportional SD = 250

    Total proportional delegates:

    Clinton = 1,991
    Sanders = 1,611

    Sanders needs to win 361 delegates more than Clinton to have the majority. Sanders needs 751 delegates more in total to win outright.

    Remaining delegates to be awarded = 1,162

    Now, Clinton has a huge lead in pledged super delegates, but only because they are ignoring the will of their own voters. And, in EVERY convention since super delegates were created, they have gone with the majority candidate – Clinton had a big lead against Obama in SD’s too, but they switched.

    The math is clear – Sanders CAN still win. It is improbable. But PLEASE stop saying it is impossible.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  11. ThatGuy wrote:

    “However, I think he could do much better. For now, it just appears that he is doing it only so some superdelegates will endorse him. It is too little, too late.”

    Agreed. For the record I also dislike his current line to flip superdelegates to alter the clear differential in actual votes.

    “Likewise, I think your contention that the current system of superdelegates is “not at all” democratic is too strong as well. Many of the superdelegates (almost a third) are elected representatives, and need I point out that we live in a representative democracy, not a democracy.”

    We’re at loggerheads here, as we have been in the past. The primaries are an opportunity for more direct democracy, and when officials (elected or otherwise) completely disregard the people who elected them (especially when there is a clear contemporary metric), that is anti-democratic. Again, NH was made a “draw” because ALL of its superdelegates went to Clinton despite the popular drubbing she took there. I don’t find comfort in some of those superdelegates being elected by the same people they have now counterbalanced; the voters were trusted to elect those officials, they ought to be trusted to elect a presidential nominee.

    Conversely, I can find only one state where Sanders was possibly disproportionately favored by superdelegates (Mississippi went 3-2 Clinton despite a more 4-1 split in popular vote), whereas elsewhere the anti-representation was quite stark.

    So my position, as always, is that superdelegates shouldn’t be a thing outside of a tie-breaking scenario. If they can declare before the convention, they should hew (proportionally) to the results of their state.

    “…but the founders definitely did not want the people electing a president, and what they feared has definitely come true with Donald Trump.”

    All true, but this supposes that the Founders were right about everything (they weren’t) and that the people can’t be trusted to counterbalance other people, which they will if… when… Trump is the GOP nominee. Hell, even the primary voters tried their best to correct Trump’s popularity, but as you say the GOP rules favored him.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  12. Hassan wrote:

    IK, if we exclude all super delegates from both Sanders and Clinton, is it mathematically possible for Sanders to have majority of pledged delegates? If he can, then I do not see it wrong to suggest that he can tell super delegates to vote for him since he has majority delegates (same goes to Hillary).

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  13. Iron Knee wrote:

    Arthanyel, I just said that he can win, but only if he flips enough superdelegates. He cannot do it through pledged delegates alone. Your last message is very unclear, but you seem to be saying the same thing.

    Hassan, you are asking the same question. If you exclude all superdelegates, then it is not mathematically possible for Sanders to win (have enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination). At this point, only Clinton can do that. Sanders would need to flip some superdelegates.

    Thatguy, I understand your position (and can respect it, but disagree). I think political parties are inherently non-democratic. Furthermore, our two-party system itself is extremely non-democratic. Minor changes (including eliminating superdelegates, or equivalently, allocating them based on popular vote) will be a negligible improvement, and may even make things worse (e.g., Trump). A good solution is the jungle primary.

    Even worse, trying to change the rules in the middle of an election in order to favor one candidate over another is disgusting and insults the word “democratic”. The current rules say the superdelegates can vote for whomever they choose. The fact that most of them switched of their own volition from Clinton to Obama in 2008 is a sign that the system worked, most likely because the superdelegates feel a responsibility to their constituents. But note that they changed based on the national vote, not on the vote in each state.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  14. ThatGuy wrote:

    I don’t think they should change the rules right now, just that they should change them. As far as going by their state, I think that’s the best route IF they feel the need to declare before the convention. Spiting your constituents by nullifying their votes (sometimes before they even happen) is distasteful and discourages voting. I’d be all for seeing superdelegates switch en masse to the winning (nationally) candidate once the proof is in the pudding as a sign of unity.

    So again, I don’t support Sanders’ current superdelegate strategy to flip them despite the national vote for the same reason I dislike the concept of superdelegates: it’s undemocratic. That it is a viable option (if a long shot) is a further indictment of the system.

    Also, I think what Hassan is saying is that Sanders could, however unlikely, end up with MORE pledged delegates than Clinton, with none of them winning the nomination outright. In which case he’s (Hassan) fine with seeing Sanders call for the superdelegates to jump ship.

    I like the idea of a jungle primary in theory. Certainly better than what we have now, assuming it’s national rather than state-by-state. Some sort of vote ranking might help, too, especially if it stayed state-by-state. In which case, we might try to cross a jungle primary with elements of a single transferable vote system.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  15. Iron Knee wrote:

    Variations are fine, but I keep mentioning the jungle primary because 3 states already use it, so we have some experience with it. Also, it is relatively simple and understandable by voters (although that doesn’t seem to be a desirable attribute with today’s primaries!). But I’m open to other options.

    I’d also be happy to have a single national primary. There is no good reason for an election to last almost a year.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  16. westomoon wrote:

    We’ve been arguing the impossibility of Sanders’ nomination since before the primaries began — and what’s the point of this latest spate of it? That Sanders should drop out? Why? Let the voters int he remaining 10 States have their say — what harm can it do?

    As to that beloved “selfish funding” meme — Hillary is in no position to criticize. This article turned my stomach: . Snips: “The Democratic front-runner says she’s raising big checks to help state committees, but they’ve gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised.


    Snips: “The Democratic front-runner says she’s raising big checks to help State committees, but they’ve gotten to keep only 1% of the $60 million raised.”

    “But it is perhaps more notable that the arrangement has prompted concerns among some participating state party officials and their allies. They grumble privately that Clinton is merely using them to subsidize her own operation, while her allies overstate her support for their parties and knock Sanders for not doing enough to help the party.”

    “The Hillary Victory Fund, by contrast, allows the Clinton campaign to maintain tight control over the cash it raises and spends. The fund represents by far the most ambitious use to date of a joint fundraising committee — and arguably one of the most ambitious hard-dollar fundraising efforts in modern presidential politics. Until 2014, the most an individual could have given to such a committee was $123,200. But in April of that year, the Supreme Court, in a case called McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, struck down aggregate limits on total giving to federal campaigns, allowing maximum donations to as many different committees as a donor wanted.
    That paved the way for massive joint fundraising committees that could accept ever-larger checks based on the number and type of committees that agreed to participate. In the case of the Hillary Victory Fund, the maximum donation in 2016 is $356,100, based on maximum donations of $2,700 to Hillary for America for the primary election, $33,400 to the DNC and $10,000 to the federal accounts of each of the 32 state parties.”

    Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink
  17. westomoon wrote:

    Today I really missed having a “like” capability here — lotta really good comments!

    Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink
  18. Iron Knee wrote:

    Westomoon, I tried adding a more functional commenting system, which included “like” capability, but it had problems. Maybe I’ll try again someday. But I kinda like the current simplicity — you can always say that you like someone’s post, which I find more personal than some cute button.

    You wonder if I want Sanders to drop out, asking “what harm can it do?” Let me start with the second part of that. Two weeks ago a Sanders volunteer rang my doorbell. He wanted me to vote for Sanders in the primary. But his persuasive technique consisted of calling Hillary Clinton a liar, a war monger, and other bad names. The kid looked like he was too young to even vote, or I would have given him an earful.

    I’ve seen lots of similar things online, especially on sites like Reddit. It almost seems like Sanders supporters are bashing Clinton more than Republicans are (unless those “Sanders supporters” are secretly Republicans, but it is more likely that they are just people who have fallen for all the GOP propaganda).

    That is doing a lot of harm, and it should stop.

    Now, it is ok to say that Clinton is more of a hawk than Sanders, but calling her a “war monger” pisses me (and many of my friends) off. Sanders himself has been pretty good at keeping to the issues and not calling her names, but even he has failed a few (too many) times as well.

    Having said all that, am I asking Sanders to drop out? No, absolutely not. I think his being in the race has been mostly very good for the Democratic party. He has singlehandedly made it ok to be called a liberal in this country. He has gotten us to talk about progressive issues. He has made the democratic party primaries much more interesting, and made the GOP primary look like a bunch of kids throwing mud at each other.

    What I’m asking is that Sanders and Clinton treat each other with respect. I also want Sanders supporters (including people on Sanders’s staff) to stop whining so much about the deck being stacked against them, how the rules are unfair and should be changed now, or how the media is biased towards Clinton (which is laughable — 43% of the mentions of Clinton in the media are negative).

    I’m also very tired of them saying that he has a better chance of defeating Trump.

    Or that Hillary doesn’t deserve to be president because she does fundraising in amounts greater than $27 per donor. Yes, we should get so much money out of politics, but (as proven by JEB and Trump) money doesn’t always buy elections, and unilaterally disarming is not always the best strategy.

    I have a close friend who has spent his life working on sustainable agriculture. He has started programs in dozens of countries, written many books, and there was even a PBS special about all the good things he has done. But I’ve seen some (self-appointed) progressives disparage him because he drinks Pepsi and eats meat. This stupid attitude that you can’t do good things unless you are pure and innocent is tremendously annoying to me.

    Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  19. westomoon wrote:

    IK, I wasn’t criticizing the site format, just using it (obviously awkwardly) to praise this batch of comments.

    In your comment, there are many things I agree with, and quite a few I’d like to respond to. But time is short this morning — I would just like to urge you to read the Politico link I provided.

    It’s not that Hillary is collecting big money from big donors. It’s that the Party and down-ballot fund-sharing she is preening herself for doing, and castigating Sanders for not doing, turns out to be a sort of money-laundering scheme. It lets her campaign evade the limits on individual donations, and State parties end up with zilch.

    Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  20. Iron Knee wrote:

    Westomoon, I look forward to your comments.

    I had read that Politico article when I was writing the original post. At the time, PolitiFact was doing a fact check of it, but had not finished. They have now finished, and you can read it at

    Originally, PolitiFact had rated the statement “Bulk of the money collected at Clinton fundraiser will go to down-ballot Democrats” as “Mostly True”. Because of the Politico article, they did more research and they have changed their rating to “Half True”. They say this because while it is definitely true that the bulk of the money is going to the DNC, it is unclear how the DNC is spending that money.

    Based on reading the Politico article, I was careful to say “most of the money that gets raised at the expensive fundraising dinners that Clinton appears at (and Sanders mocks) will go to the Democratic party”. That is absolutely true. I did not say that it was going to down-ballot Democrats, even though I believe that the bulk of it will (at least eventually).

    Indeed, according to PolitiFact, a bunch of that money is being spent on “voter information, research, media monitoring, organizing capacity, and other infrastructure services provided by the DNC”.

    Remember, I worked as a volunteer on the Obama campaign in 2008, and we shared an office with a Senate campaign (ironically Jeff Merkley, who has endorsed Sanders, but I still really like Merkley). I worked on infrastructure (setting up and keeping the computer systems running, internet connections, and building databases) and all of that work benefitted both campaigns equally (they used our internet connection, computers, and data).

    Many people have noted that one of the main reasons Obama won was because of the Democratic party’s superior data, and that same data was used by the local parties and campaigns. So personally, when I read the Politico article, while what it was saying was technically true (that the state party money was going to the DNC), the DNC was using it on things that are of incredible benefit to those state parties. So I thought it was very misleading, but I wanted to wait for PolitiFact to revise their article before saying anything.

    PolitiFact also says “One final important note: Spokesmen for both the Clinton campaign and the DNC said many millions raised for the state parties have not been distributed yet, but will be soon.” So the original rating of “Mostly True” may end up the appropriate rating (if it isn’t already). In addition (and ironically) if Clinton were already the presumed nominee, it would make sense that the DNC would be spending less money on her campaign and more on other campaigns.

    I hope that clears things up.

    Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink