Sen. Bernie Sanders received a boost Tuesday night when he upset Hillary Clinton in the Indiana primary 52.7% to 47.3%. But that’s still not enough to give Sanders a shot at the nomination.
The result in the Hoosier State means that Sanders will take a majority of Indiana’s 83 delegates, allowing the Vermont lawmaker to gain some ground on Clinton, but not enough to cut substantially into her sizeable delegate lead.
The outcome also ensures that the race for Democratic presidential nomination will carry on for weeks, if not months, to come, while Republicans begin to the slow, awkward process of coalescing around Donald Trump. The billionaire scored a resounding victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary, prompting the chair of the Republican National Committee to dub him the presumptive nominee and forcing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to drop out of the race after 13 months.
Sanders’ win means he can push back against critics who argue he should turn off the lights following a double-digit defeat in New York’s primary and after losing four out of five primaries last week in the northeast.
Speaking to supporters just minutes after the polls closed, Sanders showed no signs of dropping out, hammering away on the campaign message of income inequality. He also seemed to unveil a new line of attack against Clinton, calling out Walmart’s ruling family, the Waltons, for being part of the “billionaire class.” Clinton served on board at Walmart, a company based in Arkansas, where she was first lady.
Yet the writing seems to be on the wall, even if Sanders himself cannot read it. Besides lagging in the delegate race, his once prodigious fundraising has begun to dry up, with Clinton bringing in almost $10 million more in April.
Meanwhile, Clinton, who didn’t campaign in Indiana the last few days, is eager to turn toward the general election and the battle with Trump.
In an interview with MSNBC, Clinton boasted that she had received two million more votes than Trump during the primaries, and believes that he made a huge tactical mistake by going after her as a woman in attacking her credentials as a leader.
“What he was saying in going after my qualifications is very familiar to a lot of women, and we’re not going to be counted out anymore,” she said. “We’re going to stand up and express our opinions. We’re going to claim what is rightfully ours in our workface, in our society, in our economy and our political system, and I have been thrilled by the response to his negative comments – because most women see it about themselves, and not just me.”
“And when I think about running against him, I’m going to stay focused on the issues that are going to make a difference in people’s lives, because I think this is a change election,” Clinton added. “I am not going to respond to his every insult and attack. That is just not what I think this election will eventually come down to.”
On the question of Sanders’ increasingly combative statements about her and his insistence on carrying his campaign all the way to the national convention, even if Clinton sews up the nomination long before then, Clinton replied: “Well, he has every right to finish out this primary season. I couldn’t argue with that … but the facts are pretty clear. I am three million votes ahead of him, 300 clinched delegates ahead of him, and we’re going to unify the party and we’re going to have a great convention and we’re going to be focused on making our case to the American public against Donald Trump, and I think he [Sanders] will be part of that.”
“He also said in the last week he will work tirelessly, seven days a week to defeat Donald Trump,” she said.
Despite his latest win, it is virtually impossible for Sanders to pick up the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination outright, meaning that his only chance is to persuade scores of Democratic Party officials or “super delegates” to switch their support to him at the July national convention in Philadelphia.
Nonetheless, a majority of Democrats want him to stay in the race, according to NBC News/SurveyMonkey polling. Even among Clinton Democratic supporters, 28 percent say he should keep running.
The Clinton team “thinks this campaign is over. They’re wrong,” Sanders said in a statement.