For Bernie, the going only gets tougher

Bernie Sanders has gotten farther in this presidential race than anyone this side of Tad Devine ever believed. I am among the happy throng that has tried to glass-ceiling the Bernie Insurgency, only to see him smash right through. And I’m prepared to be wrong again, but I firmly believe what I’m about to write.

Bernie Sanders has reached his high point.

And I have the numbers to back that up.

Yes, he finished a strong second to Hillary Clinton in Nevada. Yes, he has one strong win and two narrow losses so far. But when I look at the upcoming primary calendar, I see a lot of bad news in Bernie’s future.

Let’s start with South Carolina, where Clinton has a decisive edge — and Bernie’s own campaign appears to be waving the white flag. They deny it, naturally; but his schedule argues otherwise. South Carolina Democrats vote on Saturday, but Sanders is spending almost the entire week in states that vote on Super Tuesday and beyond.

When asked about his Palmetto prospects, Bernie put on a happy face.

“We came to South Carolina, and, if you look at the polls, we were at 7, 8, 9 percent in the polls. We were 50, 60, 70 points behind. We have waged a very vigorous campaign. We have closed the gap very significantly,” he said.

He said the same thing after losing in Nevada. And it’s true; but it sounds a lot like Marco Rubio claiming victory after the latest loss. At some point, you have to start winning.

Beyond South Carolina, you look at the upcoming contests, and the odds against Bernie become crystal clear. (Like a glass ceiling, heh.)

March 1: He’ll win Vermont. He’s narrowly ahead in Massachusetts. As for the rest (aggregate polling numbers from RealClearPolitics):

Texas: Clinton up by 16 percent
Virginia: Clinton by 17
Georgia: Clinton by 38
Tennessee: Clinton by 23
Arkansas: Clinton by 29
Alabama: Clinton by 28
Oklahoma: Clinton by 14


The caucus states of Minnesota and Colorado haven’t seen any recent polling, but the latest figures show Clinton with leads of 26 and 28 percent.

In states where Clinton is leading, there are 865 delegates at stake.

In states where Sanders leads, there are 142 delegates up for grabs.

It doesn’t get any better on Saturday, March 5, when two states vote by caucus and there’s one primary.

Kansas: Clinton by 48 (very old poll)
Louisiana: Clinton by 41
Nebraska: Can’t find any poll data, but it doesn’t seem like Bernie Country


Kansas and Louisiana combined will choose 84 delegates. Nebraska, another 25.

Maine holds caucuses on March 6; let’s give Bernie the edge for its 25 delegates. That balances out Nebraska.

On March 8 we get two more Clinton states with a total of 184 delegates.

Michigan: Clinton by 19
Mississippi: Clinton by 34

Then comes March 15, and more places where Bernie trails badly.

Florida: Clinton by 39
Illinois: Clinton by 19
Missouri: Clinton by 28 (old poll)
North Carolina: Clinton by 19
Ohio: Clinton by 15

Those five states combine for 751 delegates.

So, between March 1 and March 15:

States where Clinton is ahead by double digits (plus Nebraska): 1799 delegates

States where Sanders leads (plus Maine): 208 delegates

Now, Clinton isn’t winning all 1799 — but she’s poised to roll up solid majorities in each state. Bernie is far behind in every state outside New England.

Even without the superdelegates, Clinton is likely to have an insurmountable lead by the morning of March 16.

Bernie Sanders will be playing catch-up almost everywhere he goes. He’s running short of time.

Can he do it? He’s outperformed expectations so far, but the climb just got a lot steeper. We shall see.

8 thoughts on “For Bernie, the going only gets tougher

  1. Dave Katz

    Your last line says it all.

    We’ll see if there are enough suckups, sycophants, wishful thinking ambitious party officials, grifters with one hand out and the other one reaching for someone else’s pocket, entitled Vineyard “consultant” jerks, death-penalty supporting female zombies, felonious investment bankers, high-visibility pundits who universally get it wrong but who are still mysteriously employed, all the Mark Penns, David Frums, Debby “Sergeant” Schultzes, as well as the entire corrupt, rotten DNC/DLC circus, in play to stymie the emergent and energized New Dealer faction that Senator Sanders has pretty much single-handedly resurrected from its Reagan Era grave.

    Watch Mrs. Big and Co. feverishly plying the Early Bird Special contingent with the full regalia of all the patented Boomer nostrums, jinking right to do an end run around the politically-engaged millenials and emergent majority-minority voters who are in fact the future of the Democratic Party, and who are most definitely getting a fragrant noseful of this divide and conquer, classic Nineties Clintonia, damn-the-party, damn-the-principles, damn-the long-view, grab-the-loot, and you can see the Democratic Party’s shimmering penchant for f*cking up two-car funerals in sharp relief.

    Oh, yeah, Exhibit A might be that the “electability” dog just won’t hunt, when poll after poll has Sanders ahead of Clinton in a head-to-head matchup with any Republican.

    Is it any wonder at all so many voters stay home, when this tired rube-bamboozling is all that’s on offer from the World’s Oldest Democracy(TM), and it’s endlessly regurgitated by All The Very Serious People?

  2. Paula Schramm

    I’m just feeling sad that a writer whom I’ve admired and enjoyed reading hasn’t been moved by the most positive and hopeful thing that’s happened in a long time in American politics ( say, since Obama won in 2008 )……in other words that you seem to support Hillary.
    Bernie has suffered from the media’s lack of coverage of his campaign with any serioueness until after Iowa. The one thing that Bernie has in his favor as the primary process goes on, is that an increasing number of Americans get to learn more about him, and get to know him better. The more or less insurmountable edge that Hillary has always had, is her name recognition in the whole country; no, the whole world ! It would help if the media actually covers Bernie as a serious candidate who IS doing something truly unique and revolutionary.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I already said I favored Hillary Clinton. But that had nothing to do with this latest post, which was simply a look at how the numbers stack up. Indeed, I was moved to write because I was, frankly, surprised at the size of Clinton’s edge in upcoming primary and caucus states. It’s a fact worth reporting. Don’t kill the messenger.

  3. Sue Prent

    Be that as it may, if the Dems want to win, they better find a way to nominate Bernie. His favorables exceed everyone else’s in the race, and polls have repeatedly shown that he does far better in match-ups with Trump than Hillary does. Now, Reuters has just released a poll showing him 6 points ahead of Hillary. nationally.

  4. Faith Biggs King

    Sure, Polls are real things and numbers are real things. “Facts” if you will. We all know all “facts” don’t get commented on. Not by you or by any other blogger, reporter, writer, etc. For instance, it’s a “fact” – as evidenced by a photo recently published in the Jacobin magazine and by CNN – that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton happily (deduced by the looks on their faces) attended Trump’s most recent wedding. They didn’t have to, but they did. Hillary apparently sat in the front row. They posed with drinks, huge grins and hands chummily placed on each other’s backs. Fact. I’ve also read (CNN?) that Bill Clinton acknowledges chatting on the phone with Trump about his candidacy. Interesting, It’s also a fact that numerous national polls have shown Sanders’ beating any of the Republican candidates with a bigger margin that Hillary would. Sure, it’s a fact that Sanders has been in a number of states other than SC this week. I too read the breezy conclusion that he’s abandoned South Carolina, And then, curious, in the NY Times….there’s Sanders. Today. At a news conference in South Carolina with not one, but two African-American legislators who are endorsing him. Another fact. As were the substantive comments that came out of his mouth (about poverty, Clinton’s welfare reform and the Black community). All facts. It’s a fact that Black intellectuals are coming out in full voice against Clinton. Sure, polls and numbers are facts. But shouldn’t the story be a wee, bit more then “What Are The Odds and Who’s Ahead?” Amy Goodman apparently summed it up succinctly the other day on CNN when she said she didn’t give a damn about how her neighbors might or might not vote. She wanted information on substantive issues. I wonder if writers/reporters realize the full, discouraging power these prognosticating articles about future outcomes have..,…on the rest of us. You know. The electorate.

  5. Paula Schramm

    I haven’t been reading your blog consistently, so I must have missed you saying you “favored” Hillary. If you mean favored in that you liked her better, (rather than you favored her chances as a betting person), then you are more than a “messenger” you are a supporter. While I appreciate the information in your message here, I also know that you have contributed to her campaign by stating your preference, and you haven’t been supporting Bernie’s campaign with your approval. So I don’t feel I’m “killing the messenger”. Thanks for the info, and the opinion – it’s useful to us all. But don’t go acting like you’re just an innocent bearer of news !
    Don’t worry, I still love your blog !


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