Will Hillary Clinton Win Super Tuesday? It Depends On Your Definition Of "Winning"
With Super Tuesday finally here, you probably are either "feeling the Bern" for Sanders or are "Hill yes" for Clinton. Unfortunately, Berners, it might be a rough evening to spend in front of CNN. In the majority of the 11 states and one territory with Democrats voting or caucusing on Super Tuesday, Hillary seems to have the upper hand. It's true that the greater race has moved from a sure-fire win for Hillary to a likely drawn-out fight for delegates. Yes, nationwide support between the two candidates is more closely split than it was just a few months ago. But just considering Super Tuesday results, Clinton should have it in the bag.
First of all, how do you define winning? In the simplest look at the race, you could argue that winning six state contests could be a declared victory. American Samoa only sends six delegates to the convention after all. Winning the majority of the contests would definitely play well in email blasts, fundraising calls, and as a sound bite on the morning talk shows. This will be much easier for Clinton. Under the very best of circumstances for Sanders — tied national polls (which he doesn't enjoy currently) — he would maybe get five Super Tuesday states, according to estimates by political stats guru Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight.
Clinton on the other hand should be able to count on winning five of the states with her eyes closed and Chelsea and Bill sent to North Korea for the week. Her leads in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas are staggering. Virginia looks good too. Alabama and Georgia could mimic her South Carolina blowout. The states have a similarly large Black electorate. In Arkansas, she still benefits from support that stems from her time there as the state's first lady. Texas polls point to Clinton leading with a 30-point margin.
Sanders' must-win states, on the other hand, look more like toss-ups. Vermont, sure, he will win — and by a large margin. The other states he'll need to win, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, will be a bit tougher. According to the FiveThirtyEight Super Tuesday guide, there are no polls to give us insight into Colorado voters, although the state did go for Obama in 2008, and there are a lot of liberal white people there. Sanders has drawn big crowds, and does better in Caucuses. Minnesota's caucus could go the same way, but there's no way to know.
In Massachusetts, Silver predicts an 87 percent likelihood that Clinton will win. This is one of Sanders' must-win states. That has got to sting a little (I'm trying very hard not to say "Bern" here). The one projection that does go Sanders' way is Oklahoma. It seems the state has turned its support around and is now likely in Sanders' column with an 83-percent chance of him winning thanks to support among economically disadvantaged whites.
Even if Sanders wins all those, it would just bring him to five, tying him Clinton's sure bets. The one "swing state" would be Tennessee, and that's leaning towards Clinton. Silvers says she has a 99-percent shot of winning. That sounds awfully close to certain. The black electorate with whom Sanders has struggled to make ground is smaller, but conservative Democrats make up a bigger chunk than in other states. In other words Sanders will have a tough time winning the majority of the contests.
And even if he did win six states, there's that definition of winning we talked about earlier. This is not the general election. Winning a state doesn't translate into electoral college votes on the path to the White House. All the delegates from these 11 state races will be awarded proportionately to the candidate, and that's where Sanders will really see it hard to "win" Super Tuesday.
NPR crunched some numbers, and his best possible delegate outcome by their estimates is 433. In that case Clinton would basically tie with 432. The Clinton camp would like to have a 100 delegate lead by the end of the night.
That might not be too far-fetched. A top Sanders strategist meanwhile dissed delegate counts and said the Vermont Senator's campaign is “driven by higher forms of math than arithmetic," according to MSNBC. I'm not sure what that means, since delegates actually do choose the nominee.
A Clinton win on Super Tuesday will not clinch the nomination, but a Sanders upset would be very surprising at this point. That said, I'm sure Sanders supporters will still be "feeling the Bern" come Wednesday morning when all the results are tallied. This race could last a while yet.
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