If Democratic presidential primary Bernie Sanders is looking for a good reason to stay in the race given Hillary Clinton’s nearly insurmountable delegate lead, he just received a couple of big ones.
A Quinnipiac University poll found Sanders performs better than Clinton against presumptive GOP candidate Donald Trump in crucial swing states.
The new poll shows Clinton in a dead heat with Trump in Pennsylvania, leading him by just one point, 43 percent to 42 percent. Sanders, meanwhile, leads the billionaire 47 percent to 41 percent.
The result is even more surprising when you consider the former secretary of state beat Sanders by 12 points in the Pennsylvania primary two weeks ago.
The close margins continue in Florida, a state Democrats need to win to keep the White House.
Clinton again barely beats Trump there, 43 percent to 42 percent, and the same is true for the Vermont lawmaker, who leads 44 percent to 42 percent.
The picture is brighter for Sanders in the make-or-break state of Ohio. Clinton loses to Trump, 43 percent to 39 percent, while Sanders wins a hypothetical matchup, 43 percent to 41 percent.
The snapshot comes the same day a NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll found that while Clinton beats Trump in the general election, 49 percent to 44 percent, Sanders wipes the floor with him, winning 53 percent to 40 percent.
And Sanders is still running strong in state primaries. A RealClearPolitics average of polls shows him with a six-point lead in Tuesday’s West Virginia primary, where 29 delegates are at stake.
A win there, a week after his victory in Indiana, would provide Sanders with fresh motivation to keep running against Clinton. However, it will be very difficult to make significant progress against the former First Lady’s delegate count.
The Clinton camp is acutely aware that a string of Sanders victories in May could imply that her campaign is losing ground as she heads into the crucial primaries on June 7 in California, New Jersey, Montana and several other states.
To stanch a possible loss of support, Clinton has begun running ads in Kentucky, which holds its primary next week – a step she didn’t take in either Indiana or West Virginia.
The protracted battle has become a favorite of Trump, who has taunted Clinton in recent days by saying she "can't close the deal" and defeat Sanders. Fighting a campaign on two fronts threatens to distract Clinton, allowing Trump to spend all of his time firing acid-tongued sallies her way.
The New York real estate mogul should be careful about gloating, though. While Trump appears headed for a big win in West Virginia’s GOP primary, Republicans also go to the polls in Nebraska, where some of his vanquished primary rivals are still on the ballot.
Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), who suspended his campaign last week following Trump’s double-digit victory in Indiana, is open to the possibility of restarting his presidential campaign if he wins Nebraska’s GOP primary today, according to Politico.
“The reason we suspended the race last week is with Indiana’s loss I didn’t see a viable path to victory. If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly,” Cruz said during an interview with conservative radio show host Glenn Beck.