Bernie Sanders Might Still Have A Plan B

Now that the contentious Democratic primary has been called for Hillary Clinton by the Associated Press, Bernie Sanders is about to come under massive, crushing pressure from Democrats to end his campaign for the nomination. Team Clinton would like to focus on the general election campaign against Donald Trump, but she can’t do that in earnest until the primary is over. So, will Sanders drop out now?

In all likelihood, no. First of all, the last primary isn't until June 14, when Washington, D.C. Democrats head to the polls. Moreover, as recently as last week, the Sanders campaign made clear that it’s still trying to flip superdelegates in a last-ditch effort to win the nomination. Superdelegates vote at the convention in July, so if Sanders can’t actually execute this strategy until then. This suggests that he won’t be dropping out of the race until then.

The Associated Press declared Clinton the nominee after she secured enough support from superdelegates to bring her past the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination. However, superdelegates aren’t actually required to vote for any specific candidate. They can change their minds up until the moment they vote at the convention. This is why Sanders is going to continue lobbying them: If he could convince enough Clinton-allied superdelegates to back him instead, Clinton would no longer have the delegates needed to win.

Sanders’ strategy, however, will almost certainly fail. Superdelegates are comprised of former and current officeholders, members of the Democratic National Committee, and others who’ve devoted substantial time and effort to working for the party. In other words, they’re the very embodiment of the Democratic establishment — as is Clinton herself. This is why over 500 of the 714 superdelegates have already declared their support for Clinton.

Furthermore, Democratic voters chose Clinton, not Sanders. This is evidenced by the fact that she received millions of more votes than Sanders in the primaries. The notion that the superdelegates, most of whom are already ideologically and politically aligned with Clinton, would reverse the democratic result of the primary in order to swing the nomination to a candidate who isn’t technically a Democrat is, well, absurd.

Still, this is Sanders’ strategy, and if he truly intends to see this strategy through, he’ll have to wait until the convention. It probably wouldn’t be very effective to tell superdelegates, “Hey, I’m not technically a candidate anymore, but you should vote for me at the convention anyway,” so Sanders probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.