Winning isn't everything when it comes to the presidential primary process. The races ultimately comes down to delegates — and on the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintains a significant advantage in the delegate count. Case in point, on Tuesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won West Virginia's Democratic primary, but Clinton still won at least 10 delegates in the Mountain State.
West Virginia had 29 Democratic delegates up for grabs on Tuesday, not including superdelegates. Clinton wasn't expected to win West Virginia, so the results didn't come as much of a surprise, but the delegate haul might have. Like most states, West Virginia allocates its Democratic delegates on a proportional basis. Nine delegates are awarded based on the overall statewide vote, but 20 are allocated based on the vote in each of West Virginia's congressional districts. Clinton's delegate haul coming out of West Virginia shows that although she didn't have a majority of support across the state, she still managed to secure pockets of strong support in certain parts of the state. In a race where every delegate matters, those pockets of support could make all the difference.
With more than 90 percent of the vote in, it was clear that Sanders had won the state's primary overall. At that time, he led Clinton by more than 34,000 votes, according to The New York Times. Still, Clinton had secured 11 of the state's delegates to Sanders' 16.
Despite picking up delegates, the Clinton campaign seemed intent on brushing off the West Virginia primary results on Tuesday. Clinton held a campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky, where a primary election will occur next week, before the West Virginia results had even come out. "I am looking forward to debating Donald Trump come the fall," she told the crowd.
Aside from Tuesday's results, the former first lady has a pretty compelling reason to look ahead to the general election. Including preliminary delegate totals from Tuesday's West Virginia primary, Clinton leads Sanders by more than 280 pledged delegates. With fewer than 900 pledged delegates left up for grabs in the Democratic race, Clinton's lead all but solidifies her path to the nomination.
Next up for the Democratic candidates is Kentucky, where the primary elections will occur next week. Clinton may struggle to win there just as she fell short in West Virginia, but she could still do enough to keep Sanders from gaining too much ground. Sanders, on the other hand, needs some sweeping wins under his belt if he really wants to challenge Clinton this late in the game.