New York Daily News

HIL’S BIG MAP ZAP

Eyes near-sweep Super Tues. Well ahead in Southern states Delegate math bad for Bernie

- BYADAM EDELMAN

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.

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