Sanders Wins West Virginia, Keeping the Pressure on Clinton

But his latest victory does not meaningfully change his deficit in the delegate count.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP


Bernie Sanders won the West Virginia Democratic primary on Tuesday, once again demonstrating that his campaign retains ardent support despite Hillary Clinton’s significant lead in the delegate count.

West Virginia fits the profile of a Sanders-friendly state. It’s a small and overwhelmingly white—in fact, at 93 percent white, it’s the third-whitest state in the country, according to FiveThirtyEight. Independents were permitted to vote in the Democratic primary, and Sanders has done well in contests open to independents, whereas Clinton has won most primaries restricted to Democrats.

Recent polls showed Sanders leading by an average of six points in the state. The major networks called the race with a quarter of the votes counted.

But Sanders’ win is not enough to make up ground in the delegate count. West Virginia has only 29 delegates, which will be allocated proportionally. Before Tuesday night, Clinton led Sanders by 290 in the pledged delegate count. When superdelegates are included, that lead grows by another 484 delegates. In order for Sanders to overtake Clinton, he will need many of those superdelegates to abandon Clinton and support him instead. And he’ll need to win bigger states than West Virginia, and by bigger margins.

On the Republican side, presumptive nominee Donald Trump won handily in West Virginia. Even before his last two rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, left the race last week, polls in West Virginia showed the real estate mogul with a lead of more than 30 points.

Trump also easily won the Republican primary in Nebraska on Tuesday. Nebraska’s Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, recently endorsed Trump, while the state’s junior senator, Republican Ben Sasse, is among the most vocal anti-Trump members of Congress.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate