One of the long-running themes of the Bernie Sanders campaign has been a general lack of trust in the mainstream media. Sanders even signs off on his victories by declaring he’s just sent another message to “the media establishment,” an establishment which at various points has either ignored the Vermont senator’s campaign or insisted that he should get out of the way to allow Hillary Clinton a clear path to the nomination. When the likes of MSNBC continue pushing the idea that Sanders ought to consider dropping out, even after winning his sixth state in a row in a month of over-performing, it’s easy to see why the Sanders campaign – and indeed his supporters – have little love for the big news institutions.
Of course it’s true that Sanders’ chances of winning the Democratic nomination are now very slim. He may have “the momentum,” and he may at last be drawing level with Clinton as chief preference for Democratic voters, but it’s likely too little too late. Sanders needed the momentum he has now at the start of the year, and it’s no use Dems nationally coming round to supporting Sanders now when over half of the states have already voted. Bernie Sanders’ path to the nomination is a narrow one – he needs roughly an average 57% of remaining delegates to win, an almost impossible number. Does that mean he should drop out? Absolutely not.
Yesterday morning, with news of Sanders’ victory in must-win Wisconsin flashing on the news ticker, Joe Scarborough asked Hillary Clinton on Morning Joe if she thought it was “time for [Sanders] to end his campaign…so you can focus on Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.” To this, Clinton replied: “I’m the last person to tell anybody to walk away.” Like Sanders intends to this year, Clinton in 2008 remained in the race until the last vote – despite the fact that Barack Obama had pulled ahead of her well before then. She may want her 2016 opponent to back off so she can start focusing on the general election, but Clinton understands better than most that for Sanders to do so when there’s still a fight to be had is simply absurd.
Following a disappointing set of losses on March 15th, Bernie Sanders’ recent showings have been strong. He beat Clinton in Utah, Idaho and Alaska by 50% of the vote or more. In Hawaii and Washington, meanwhile, Sanders gained respectively double and triple the amount of delegates won by his rival. These were blowout victories, but perhaps most impressive was Tuesday’s result in Wisconsin, a state where Clinton was up in the polls by six points just two weeks ago, and which Sanders eventually won by 13 points.
Next, the senator is set for a big win in Wyoming (not a major prize with only 18 delegates, but success there will add fuel to the ‘Sanders surge’ narrative). After that, it’s New York, a state where in two weeks the gap between the two Democratic candidates has shrunk from an average 30-plus points to just 11 points. Then it’s Pennsylvania, where Sanders has gone from 45 points down by the earliest Quinnipiac poll to within six points of Clinton according to the latest, and California, where he has within a year come back from a 40-point deficit to get within ten points of the frontrunner. These are major states (with an enormous amount of delegates collectively), all of which Sanders could feasibly still be competitive in.
This is where the race stands currently. This is before the Democratic contenders clash for one final, highly-anticipated televised debate in New York, and before Sanders inevitably begins highlighting Clinton’s connection to the Panama Papers scandal. It’s before more caucus states like Nevada – which Sanders effectively won back from Clinton last week – decide at county and then state level on final delegate counts. It’s before a decision is made on whether there could be a re-vote in Arizona, a state in which massive on-the-day voter suppression occurred.
Bernie Sanders probably won’t be the Democratic nominee – you didn’t have to look far yesterday to find the major news outlets seeking to remind you of that. That doesn’t mean there’s no chance at all that Sanders will be facing Trump or Cruz in November. There’s an incredibly slim chance, but it’s a chance all the same. This idea that millions of voters who are planning to cast a ballot for Bernie Sanders in upcoming states should be denied the opportunity, simply because his rival is considered ‘inevitable’? Well, that’s not just arrogant – it’s plain undemocratic.