It looks like that little bird made the right choice, huh? Just one day after social media was lit ablaze by the serendipitous endorsement of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders by, well, "Birdie Sanders" — one of the most made-to-be-gif'd moments of the 2016 race so far — the 74-year-old presidential contender had one of his biggest nights of the campaign season, notching wins in the Alaska and Washington caucuses. But it's important to remember that it's not about states, it's about delegates. So, how many delegates did Bernie Sanders win during his huge Saturday night?
The short answer is a lot of them! These are some of the first truly lopsided margins he's been able to score against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton (save for his home state of Vermont), and delegate-rich Washington will surely be a big prize. The results aren't final just yet, and they'll be updated throughout the night, but as it stands now, Sanders in the projected winner in both Washington and Alaska. And while there isn't a ton of polling data out of Hawaii, there's always the possibility that he wins there too.
But all the same — and sorry in advance if any Bernie Sanders diehards hate me for saying so, but it's true — he's still got a steep hill to climb to pull even with Clinton, and she's still in prime position to win the nomination.
Here's how things are looking. Sanders has won both Alaska and Washington, and from the looks of things he's going to do it by big margins, assuring him the lion's share of the delegates. Washington is the only of the three states voting tonight that has a truly sizable haul, however — they've got 101 delegates up for grabs, compared to just 16 in Alaska, and just 25 in Hawaii. At time of this this writing (Updated!):
- Sanders beat Clinton by a mark of 80.7 to 19.3 percent in Alaska, with 100 percent of the returns tallied, and will claim 13 of the state's 16 delegates.
- Sanders beat Clinton by a mark of 72.1 to 27.7 percent in Washington, with 100 percent of the returns tallied, and will claim no less than 25 of the state's 101 delegates (this number will ultimately be much higher).
- Sanders beat Clinton by a mark of 69.8 percent to 30 percent in Hawaii, with 100 percent of the returns tallied, and will claim 17 of the state's 25 delegates.
Sanders won't be able to shut Clinton out completely. Such is the burden of proportional delegate allocation — she's going to take home at least a handful of delegates in all three. One way to assess Sanders' situation is that even if he had won every single delegate on offer Saturday night (that'd be a total of 142 between the three states) he'd still be trailing Clinton by more than 150 in the total delegate count.
But there's no use for pessimism, much less on a night that's shaping up almost as well for him as it possibly could. Sanders' next stop on the primary schedule is Wisconsin (in fact, he was already on the ground in the state before voting closed Saturday night), and that'll be a real gut check for his candidacy. According to the polls, he's running tightly alongside Clinton there, which again, doesn't help him as much as it might seem — he needs not just to win, but to win by a wide enough margin to make up his still-significant delegate deficit.