Don't look now, but there's yet another round of presidential nominating contests going down in three different states today — Democratic caucuses in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state. The results are already pouring in, and with a big night in the making for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, it's entirely reasonable if you're wondering just how big the delegate hauls could be. So, what about the Evergreen State? How many delegates does Washington have up for grabs?
It's a very crucial question for Sanders, and for supporters of the self-avowed Democratic socialist's campaign, because he badly needs to make up some ground. As it stood entering Saturday's contests, Sanders was facing a nearly 300 delegate deficit, and thanks to the Democratic Party's proportional system of delegate allocation, it's hard to make up that kind of gap — you need to win states by wide, wide margins, otherwise you're stuck virtually treading water.
But it's looking like Sanders is finally going to get a few more of those dominant, overwhelming victories on Saturday — the AP has already projected him to win both Alaska and Washington by staggering margins, and Hawaii is expected to go his way, too. It's not about winning states, though, it's about delegate math. And in Washington, there's a whole lot of delegates on the line: 101 of them in all.
It figures to be a big day for Sanders, even if the delegate math will still be stacked against him by the time the day finishes. Even if he claimed every single delegate on Saturday, in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii alike, he'd still be trailing Clinton by more than 150 delegates overall.
That's without taking the superdelegates into account, too, who're free to support whichever candidate they want — the conventional wisdom suggests that they'll stick to supporting Clinton if she maintains a lead in pledged delegates, although if Sanders overtakes her, they'd be in a bind. Regardless of Clinton's superior levels of support from within the Democratic establishment, it's a fact that superdelegates have never before swung an election to an otherwise losing candidate.
The only thing now is to wait and see just how many of those 101 Washington state delegates Sanders can come away with. He won't be able to shut Clinton out entirely, needless to say, but he should grab a big chunk and narrow the gap, also likely securing some positive coverage in the days and weeks to come. And considering all the adoring attention the #BirdieSanders business got him on Friday? He's probably feeling a little bit of pep in his step right now.