How Many Delegates Does Bernie Sanders Still Need? Let's Look At The Math

With just seven more primary contests to go until the Democratic National Convention is slated to open, Senator Bernie Sanders remains in a competitive race with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet depending on how you stack up the numbers, exactly just how many delegates Sanders has to capture still is open for interpretation. So, exactly how many delegates does Bernie Sanders need to clinch the nomination? It really depends on who you ask, and how they see it.

The difference comes down to how superdelegates are counted. Superdelegates are known in the party literature as unpledged party leaders and elected officials. They key word here is the first one: unpledged.

It has been well-established that since superdelegates are free to make up their own mind, they are not directly subject to their constituents during the convention. But what this also means is that who they say they are supporting also doesn't officially matter until the convention is called to order.

Let's take a closer look at the math. There will be a total of 4763 delegates seated at the DNC in Philadelphia. The magic number to win the nomination: 2383. Now, according to CNN's delegate projections, currently Sanders is trailing Clinton by a total of 793 delegates. But, when you take a look at just the pledged delegates; that is, the ones who are actually representing the results of votes, the number drops to 292.


With 475 pledged delegates at stake on June 7 just in California alone, Sanders would have to capture roughly 61 percent of the popular vote in order close the pledged delegate gap. A low bar, when you think of it — he wouldn't even have to beat his performances in Washington or Oregon to do so. Montana, New Mexico, and the Dakotas — four other states voting with California on June 7 will also probably favor Sanders. New Jersey, and the mass of independent voters in the state, is a bit harder to read.

As it stands now, in order for Bernie Sanders to clinch the nomination, he will need the support of 866 additional delegates.

Either way, no matter how much some people in the media (cough, Chris Matthews, cough) believe that Clinton will become the presumptive nominee on June 7 shortly after polls close in the Golden State, the reality of the situation is that unless either candidate is forced to end their campaign, Democrats will have to wait until July to find out who will be at the top of their ticket.