Defying the naysayers who have suggested he’s out of fuel and momentum, Bernie Sanders scored another late-in-the-season victory tonight by scoring what could be a double-digit victory in West Virginia’s Democratic primary.
With 65.7% of precincts reporting, Sanders had around 51% of the vote (an outright majority), with Clinton well behind at 36.5%. A few gadflies accompanied Martin O’Malley in the single digits.
West Virginia Democratic Presidential Primary Results
Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
|Martin O’Malley (inactive)||1.5%||2,622|
|Rocky De La Fuente||0.4%||755|
Speaking at a rally in Salem, Oregon, Sanders cheered the result and declared that he is in it to win it, even though the math is hard. “We can do arithmetic,” he said, in a swipe at the pundits who have suggested he’s ignoring the data that shows Clinton is on her way to clinching the nomination.
Meanwhile, his campaign tweeted, “Thank you to the people of West Virginia for the tremendous victory they gave us today.”
Attendees at the Sanders rally roared their approval when Sanders declared that fearmonger and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump must be defeated in the November 2016 general election. Sanders touted polls showing that he does better against Trump in head-to-head matchups, as he often does on the stump.
Clinton’s campaign has so far opted not to comment on the results, instead choosing to tweet out a picture of Hillary Clinton with a group of moms.
Sanders’ endurance is giving some of Clinton’s establishment backers heartburn.
Former DNC Chairman Don Fowler groused to Politico, “The defeat in Indiana I was just horrified at, frankly… The longer Bernie stays in, and the longer he is not mathematically out of the process, the weaker we’re going to seem to be.”
Fowler should quit worrying and enjoy the ride. A competitive Democratic contest that runs all the way through nominating season is good for partybuilding. It gives people in all fifty states plus the territories a reason to turn out and participate. And it’s good for whoever becomes the nominee because it ensures they have a reason to be out campaigning and working to earn votes.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton herself went the distance with Barack Obama, and refused to drop out until Obama had the nomination sewn up. She announced that she would suspend her campaign on June 7th, 2008. The Democratic Party subsequently unified around Barack Obama, who went on to win a sweeping victory in the November 2008 general election.
Clinton did not do Obama a disservice by staying in the race all the way through nominating season in 2008. Likewise, Bernie Sanders is not hurting Clinton by keeping his campaign active this year. The time for unity is approaching, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with letting the people vote.
The next states to hold contests will be Kentucky and Oregon. Oregon will be the last of the states in the Pacific Northwest to hold a nominating event on the Democratic side. (Washington, Alaska, and Idaho held caucuses in March.)