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Election 2016

Sanders Campaign Hopes Tuesday's Voting Will Start Eroding Clinton's Lead

On Monday, Sanders beat Clinton in overseas balloting.

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/Arizona-for-Bernie-Sanders-2016

After a surprising win on Monday from Democrats voting abroad, Bernie Sanders hopes that Tuesday will begin a long but steady climb toward amassing the delegates needed to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

On Monday after the ballots were counted, Sanders received 69 percent of the vote from Democrats voting abroad in the party’s expatriot primary, compared to 31 percent for the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Nearly 35,000 Democrats cast ballots from 170 countries, giving Sanders nine delegates and Clinton four.

The Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary is indicative of the step-by-step strategy the Sanders campaign has been touting as it fundraises and tells supporters he still has a plausible path to the presidency. On Tuesday, Arizona, Idaho and Utah vote—all of which his campaign believes will be Sanders victories. On Saturday, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state will all hold caucuses, where Sanders also hopes to do well, especially in Washington where 118 delegates are at stake.     

“Democrats in three states make their choices for the nominee on Tuesday, and Washington caucuses on Saturday. It’s an important stretch,” said a Sanders fundraising email on Monday afternoon. “Late last week, Bernie drew an enormous crowd of 14,000 in Utah. Huge audiences have showed up to watch him speak at multiple events in Arizona, and he’s spent considerable time in Idaho as well. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has taken a number of days off the campaign trail to raise money.”

Under Democratic Party rules, 2,383 delegates are needed to win the nomination. So far, Clinton has 1,163 and Sanders has 844, according to the New York Times' tally. That does not include Monday’s overseas results and so-called superdelegates, who are the elected officials and state party leaders who account for one-sixth of all delegates. The Times reports that Clinton has 467 superdelegates compared to 26 for Sanders, although many Democratic Party activists say that superdelegates should follow the majority of state primary and caucus results, not making the nomination a party insider affair.

According to the latest polls on RealClearPolitics.com, which posts all statwide poll results for each party’s presidential campaign, the latest polls from Utah show Sanders leading in Utah but behind in Arizona. Sanders may also have the edge in Washington. Last week, the Clinton campaign issued a statement saying they expected him to win several upcoming contests though that wouldn’t substantially affect their lead.

“Our pledged delegate lead is so significant that even a string of victories by Sen. Sanders over the next few weeks would have little impact on Sec. Clinton’s position in the race,” campaign manager Robbie Mook said

On Sunday, an estimated 15,000 Sanders supporters showed up at Seattle’s KeyArena, according to local news reports. The campaign said that more than 35,000 people turned up at rallies in the state in recent days.  

Meanwhile, the campaign keeps repeating its pledge to stay in the race until the party’s convention next July. On Sunday, it filed a February campaign finance report showing it raised a record $43.5 million from 1.5 million contributions averaging about $30 apiece.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

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