Bernie Sanders pulled off a small primary win in West Virginia on Tuesday and gained 5 more delegates than Hilary Clinton but he still needs to capture many more delegates in crucial bigger states to erase Clinton’s wide delegate advantage with only a month left before the primary election season winds down on June 14th.
With 97 percent reporting in, Sanders won in West Virginia on Tuesday and gained 16 delegates to Clinton’s 11, according to the Associated Press.
There are 29 total delegates available in West Virginia.
Sanders won 51.4 percent of the votes in West Virginia compared to Clinton’s 36.0 percent.
During the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton won easily in West Virginia against Obama during a time when coal was more widely used and the West Virginia economy was stronger.
West Virginia is an industrial state with a large white working class population that has struggled to overcome the sea change shift away from coal to cleaner energy.
President Obama’s progressive clean energy policies over the past 8 years have hurt coal and fossil fuel oriented communities in West Virginia.
It is believed that Clinton’s remark about the coal industry during a March 13th CNN Townhall meeting was one of the reasons her popularity in West Virginia has declined in recent weeks.
Clinton spoke on March 13th about the shift that is occurring to clean energy when she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton later followed that up with another comment about creating new economic opportunities for current coal workers, possibly through the development of clean energy.
But the damage was already done in the minds of many voters in West Virginia.
Despite Losing West Virginia, Clinton Still Holds Large Total Delegate Lead
Clinton is still significantly ahead of Sanders by a margin of 286 total pledged delegates. Clinton has 1,716 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,430.
Her advantage widens to 770 when factoring in Super delegates.
Clinton has 2,239 to Sanders’ 1,469.
There are 2,383 Democratic delegates needed for confirmation.
Clinton has performed best thus far in larger U.S. states with more diverse populations.
Clinton will face another key test on June 7th across several U.S. states, including ones with large diverse populations such as California which has 475 delegates up for grabs and New Jersey with 126 delegates.
However, the next Democratic primaries will occur next Tuesday May 17th when Kentucky and Oregon will conduct their state primaries.
Kentucky has 55 delegates and Oregon has 61 delegates.
Sanders faces an uphill challenge to catch up to Clinton with total pledged delegates because time is running out and the remaining 9 primaries are proportional in the way delegates are awarded compared to a “winner take all” primary format that happened in a host of other U.S. state primaries that allowed one party candidate to gain much more ground by capturing all of the delegates in that particular state.
Also, convincing 523 establishment minded Super delegates already in Clinton’s camp to switch sides and support Sander’s anti-establishment platform will also be a major challenge.
Sanders is clinging to the outside hope that he will win big in the 9 remaining primary contests and receive an epic rotation of Super Delegates to his camp before the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in late July.
Sanders’ campaign has cited a poll from public policy polling that shows Sanders matches up better to Donald Trump in a general election.
Thank you to the people of West Virginia for the tremendous victory they gave us today. pic.twitter.com/PyK1lx9NF3
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 11, 2016
Donald Trump won easily in Nebraska and Virginia on Tuesday. Trump has 1,107 total delegates and is expected to capture the 1,237 threshold needed to secure the Republican nomination.