Which Democratic Primary State Is Most Important? The Badger State Is A Biggie

Although Hillary Clinton has a healthy delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, the race is far from over. Some of the biggest states in primary, including California and New York, have yet to weigh in, and in some of the remaining contests, the polling is very close. Which close state is most important in the Democratic primary?

It's actually not that tough of a question to answer, simply because there aren't very many states in which the polling is all that close. In most of them, Clinton either has a substantial lead over Sanders (Arizona, Maryland, California, and New York fall into this category) or alternatively, there isn't enough polling to draw any conclusions one way or another (Idaho, Utah, and Alaska fit the bill here). That leaves only one state, but it's a big one: Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, Sanders and Clinton are truly polling neck-and-neck. According to Huffington Post's polling aggregate, Clinton holds an average lead of just 0.5 percent over Sanders, which is well within the margin of error in most forecasts. Real Clear Politics, meanwhile, puts her polling lead at 2 percent — a bit higher, but still essentially a tie.

It's clear, then, that Sanders and Clinton are essentially deadlocked in the state. Further raising the stakes is the fact that Wisconsin is worth 96 delegates. That's not an enormous haul, but it's more than enough to make a difference in a close race. Add it all up, and there's no doubt that both candidates will be vigorously contesting Wisconsin when the state votes on April 5.

Though Sanders is currently trailing Clinton in delegates, he does still have a path to the nomination. That path would involve him not only winning states, but winning big. The biggest reason Sanders been unable to close the delegate gap with Clinton is that, while he has been winning states, he's been winning them by relatively small margins. Because all states allocate their delegates proportionally during the Democratic primary, close races benefit both candidates equally.

Clinton, by contrast, generally wins states by very big margins. This has allowed her to steadily amass a lead over Sanders in delegates, and because he fell behind early on in the race with Clinton's landslide victory in South Carolina, razor-thin Sanders victories — like the one he enjoyed in Michigan — just aren't enough to give him the leg up over Clinton.

Wisconsin is one of Sanders' best chances to win another state. But in order for it to make any difference, he'll have to win it big.