Tuesday night’s primary results were unequivocally a setback for Bernie Sanders’s political revolution.
Clinton now has over half the delegates she needs to clinch the nomination having already racked up 1,488 according to the Associated Press. Though pledged superdelegates have switched candidates in the past, Sanders’s poor showings on Tuesday night do very little to increase his case that his candidacy is what Democratic voters want.
Hillary Clinton was heavily favored to win Florida and North Carolina going into Super Tuesday II and the results in those two states come as no surprise. Clinton arguably won even bigger than expected with a victory of 63 to 33 percent over Sanders in Florida.
The primary map shows that Clinton has swept the South completely – a clear sign that her strength in the region has held up despite Sanders’s unexpectedly strong campaign.
But the biggest prize Tuesday night, in terms of momentum, was undoubtedly Ohio where Clinton was ahead by over 20 points earlier this year and saw her lead cut to single digits. Sanders outspent her in the Buckeye State over the past two weeks and he campaigned heavily there after his upset in Michigan last week. In that primary he edged her out by just two points but won an even bigger victory by showing real deficiencies in her campaign.
Indeed, this will continue to be Sanders’s argument: Hillary Clinton is beatable – at least on a state by state basis.
Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, has always made it clear that their approach would be to take each state as an individual challenge keeping in mind that no voting bloc is as monolithic as it has been in the past. And Weaver is right. Clinton hasn’t been putting together the so-called Obama coalition as she had hoped she would. And that will continue to hurt her going forward.
But it’s not altogether clear that Sanders can make this argument as effectively after Clinton’s win in Ohio.
The data will continue to trickle in over the next 24 hours but it will no doubt show that independent voters – a key factor in Sanders’s wins in these open primaries – have decided that stopping Donald Trump is more critical than voting for the socialist from Vermont.
We’ve heard stories of this all over Ohio and you can be sure that the violence over the weekend at Trump’s rally in Chicago and his response to it played a role in the decision for independents to vote for John Kasich -- a clear rebuke to Trump. This may very well continue.
It follows, too, that Tuesday night was huge for Clinton. But that doesn’t mean that she’s home free in all of this.
Bernie Sanders’s strong fundraising pace will continue. He raised $43 million in February and is on track to do the same this month.
Sanders’ wealthy backers have told him to keep going until the convention and he has stated that he absolutely plans to. And though Clinton had a big night on March 15 the dynamic of the race also continues. She is the clear favorite but a place remains for Sanders to keep on fighting.
So congratulations, Hillary Clinton! It was a big night, but the battle continues.