The fact that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz each won two nominating contests is getting plenty of attention, but let’s not forget that one other candidate also notched two victories yesterday. His name is Bernie Sanders.
Hillary Clinton won the Louisiana primary by a landslide, but the Vermont independent posted a double-digit win in Nebraska, and won by an even larger margin in Kansas. How does this change the race? I think The New Republic’s take is probably the right one: it didn’t change much.
Both [Sanders and Clinton] can make arguments that they won the night. Sanders won two of three contests, while Clinton’s huge victory in Louisiana, the night’s biggest prize, means that she should extend her delegate lead. But for the most part, these three contests have done very little to change the shape of the Democratic race.Sanders has been racking up low-margin victories in states with large white populations, while Clinton continues to win by wide-margins in states with larger black populations. Sanders does not seem to have broadened his coalition, while Clinton, the frontrunner, does not seem to be converting much of Bernie’s base.
I can imagine how frustrating this must be to Sanders’ die-hard fans. There were three contests yesterday, and the Vermont senator won two with relative ease, even after Clinton’s Super Tuesday successes earlier this week. Sanders may very well win another contest today, with the Maine caucuses on deck. How can that be anything other than great news?
The Sanders campaign has every reason to boast about these wins, and bragging rights aren’t unimportant, but the senator isn’t yet moving closer to his goal.
We saw a very specific dynamic unfold on Super Tuesday: Clinton posted big wins in big states, while Sanders scored some more modest wins in smaller states. The result was hardly a blowout in nominal terms – Clinton won seven contests on Tuesday to Sanders’ four – but the Democratic frontrunner ended up padding her delegate advantage.
A similar dynamic unfolded yesterday. Clinton won one big state (Louisiana) by an enormous margin, while Sanders won two smaller states (Kansas and Nebraska) by more modest margins.
As the dust settles on yesterday’s races, Clinton actually had a stronger net gain in delegates yesterday, even though Sanders won two states to Clinton’s one.
The result is a race that looks pretty similar the day after Super Saturday as the day before it.