Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton won a couple more primary races — in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — expanding her already substantial lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary contest. But Sanders refuses to give up the ghost, insinuating that he must, on some level, be the real winner and that this fight has to be taken to the convention so he can snatch the prize he clearly believes belongs to him, even as the voters continue disagreeing.
“Mr. Sanders,” the New York Times reports, “insists that the convention will be contested because he is still lobbying superdelegates — party officials and state leaders who cast their final votes at the convention — to withdraw support from Mrs. Clinton and back him instead.”
“It is extremely unlikely that Secretary Clinton will have the requisite number of pledged delegates to claim victory on Tuesday night,” Sanders said during a news conference Saturday. “Now, I have heard reports that Secretary Clinton has said it’s all going to be over on Tuesday night. I have reports that the media, after the New Jersey results come in, are going to declare that it is all over. That simply is not accurate.”
It’s a frustrating argument, because Sanders spent most of the campaign portraying superdelegates as some kind of corrupt elites there to deprive the popular winner of the vote. But now that Clinton is the clear winner of the popular vote, suddenly the superdelegates are legitimate again.
Calvinball antics during elections are hardly anything new — remember “hanging chads”? — but even by those standards, this is headache-inducing pretzel logic. It’s clear the only principle being employed by the Sanders camp is that the only rules that are legitimate are the ones that lead to his win.
To make it worse, Sanders is using some fuzzy math with his pledged delegates argument. Even if the superdelegate system evaporated tomorrow, Clinton would still win. According to the New York Times primary calendar, there are 4,175 pledged delegates total in the Democratic primary. If we’re just counting pledged delegates and not superdelegates, the number Clinton needs to hit to win is 2,088. She only needs to win 281 delegates to hit that number and win the pledged delegate count. In contrast, Sanders needs to win 571 delegates in order to win the pledged delegates.
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