"People listen to Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign rally on February 15 in Dearborn, Michigan.(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Hillary Clinton’s big wins in Ohio, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina on Tuesday all but sewed up the Democratic nomination for the longtime frontrunner. Ms. Clinton will now shift for a general election campaign that promises to be intense, entertaining, nasty and passionate on both sides, particularly if Donald Trump wins his party’s nomination. While it is clear where Ms. Clinton needs to focus, the question of what Bernie Sanders should do now is more vexing.
The one set of demands that Mr. Sanders can usefully make is to ask Ms. Clinton to bring his people into positions of influence within the campaign.
There are many, including the Clinton campaign, who argue that with the primary essentially over, Mr. Sanders should simply drop out of the race. Although, Mr. Sanders has almost no chance of winning, that does not necessarily mean that he should leave the race; and it is certainly not wise for the Clinton campaign to try to push him out. That will only anger Sanders’s supporters and strengthen the Vermont Senator’s desire to stay in the race as well as the belief among his supporters that the process has been rigged against him. Moreover, Mr. Sanders has reasons to stay in the race even if he cannot win. His candidacy gives him a platform to discuss the issues he cares about; he has ample resources; and he may have made commitments to supporters in states that still have not voted that he feels he needs to honor.
Supporters of Sanders may continue to claim that their candidate still has a chance, but those arguments are increasingly hard to believe. Despite the race being only roughly half way over, with about 52 percent of the regular delegates still to be pledged, it would be extremely difficult for the delegate math to add up for Mr. Sanders. Thus far, Ms. Clinton has won 58 percent of the pledged delegates, and Mr. Sanders only 42 percent. Significantly, this does not include superdelegates. For Ms. Clinton to get the needed 2,382 delegates without needing a single superdelegate, she would need to win 60 percent of the 2,119 delegates that have still not been pledged. That would require her to improve only very slightly on her performance to date. However, to get a majority of the pledged delegates, and thus make it easy for the super delegates to support her without being accused of rigging the system, she needs to win 43 percent of the remaining unpledged regular delegates. That should be very easy for Ms. Clinton. However, for Mr. Sanders, the task of winning a majority of pledged delegates, which would allow him to make an argument against superdelegates giving the nomination to Ms. Clinton, requires winning 57 percent of the remaining delegates and far outperforming what he has done so far."