New York Daily News
HIL’S BIG MAP ZAP
Eyes near-sweep Super Tues. Well ahead in Southern states Delegate math bad for Bernie
BERNIE SANDERS’ shot at the Democratic nomination for President could Bern down on Super Tuesday if Hillary Clinton runs the table in the slew of primaries and caucuses on March 1.
Clinton is heavily favored in all of them, except in Sanders’ home state of Vermont and neighboring Massachusetts.
In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia — all Southern states with large numbers of AfricanAmerican voters who overwhelmingly support Clinton — as well as in Colorado, Texas and Minnesota, the former secretary of state is the front-runner, according to a range of polls.
“If you look at the pure mathematics and demographics of these states on March 1, I don’t think (Sanders) turns the tide and cre- ates the level of political momentum he needs to win, like the levels he experienced after New Hampshire,” Rodell Mollineau, a partner at political strategy firm Rokk Solutions, told the Daily News.
“Super Tuesday could be rough for him,” he added. “Especially in these Southern states, the ones that have larger numbers of African-Americans.”
“I’m not sure he’s figured out a way as of yet, to communicate with African-American voters and to get them to rally around him,” Mollineau said.
In a telling sign that could reaffirm Clinton’s well-documented support among the key demographic, black voters in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses — which Clinton handily won — overwhelmingly flocked to the former First Lady, 76% to 22%, according to exit polling.
The Saturday primary in South Carolina, where Clinton is also heavily favored and where she is also relying largely on black voters, will be another good test for her before March 1.
Mollineau said Sanders is likely to struggle with the fact that so many states will head to the polls on Super Tuesday — a schedule that prevents the progressive senator from focusing on just one state, as he was able to do successfully in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“He no longer has the benefit of focusing on one state for a few weeks; he will have to spread across five or six states at the same time,” Mollineau said.
Despite his solid performances in those two early-voting states — a virtual tie with Clinton in the Iowa caucuses and a blowout victory in the New Hampshire primary — Sanders is losing badly to
her in the crucial delegate count, 502 to 70.
That is due almost entirely to the fact that superdelegates — prominent Democratic Party members who are free to support any candidate for the nomination at the party’s national convention — have overwhelmingly flocked to Clinton, 451 to 19.
To win the Democratic nomination, Clinton must notch 2,383 delegates, and nearly 900 of those will be at stake on March 1, although each state awards them proportionally, based on the mar- gin of victory.
In effect, Clinton could emerge next Wednesday morning the near-certain nominee.
But experts agree that Sanders isn’t likely to drop out, even as the delegate count stacks higher and higher against him.
“His financial backing will keep him in the game longer than some establishment Democrats want,” Mollineau said. “I think he’s committed to seeing this through, regardless of the math.”
“And should something happen,” Mollineau added, hinting at possible further damaging developments from the investigations into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, Sanders “would still be around to benefit” from the superdelegates — who in the Democratic Party can change their minds at the July convention and pledge their support to a different candidate.
Bill Hyers, a partner at Hilltop Public Solutions and a former strategist for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign, agrees, explaining that Sanders may even pull out a surprise or two on March 1.
“He is still very competitive, he has a replenishing source of money, a solid base of white liberals and a clear message,” Hyers
told The News, predicting that the progressive senator could be “competitive in Colorado, Minnesota and Massachusetts” — where his campaign has spent heavily — “and obviously Vermont.”
“And if he does well, and does well in the April 26 states that favor him,” like Pennsylvania and Connecticut, “then it could go all the way to the California primary in June,” he said.
But that’s a long shot, and Clinton will probably emerge as the de facto nominee in a few weeks, Hyers said.
“(Sanders) needs to win several contests on Super Tuesday,” he said. “If he has trouble then, I think the race will largely be over by March 15,” when voters in five more states, including juggernauts Florida, Missouri and Ohio, head to the polls.