It’s always risky to speak with too much certainty about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s prospects for the Democratic presidential nomination, but her devastating defeat of Sen. Bernie Sanders in South Carolina last weekend appears to have put her on track for a near sweep of Tuesday’s dozen Democratic primary contests throughout the country.
Her dominance over the Vermont democratic socialist among black, female, middle-aged and older voters in the Palmetto State points to a repeat performance in a handful of Southern and Southwestern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas – the cherry on top of the electoral sundae, with 222 delegates at stake.
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Sanders may pick up important support from Hispanics, especially younger people and college students enamored of his talk of political and economic “revolution” and promise of free college tuition and “Medicare for all.” But Clinton’s campaign insists that the former senator and first lady did better among Hispanics in Nevada than network entrance polls suggest. And if she can come close to replicating her five-to-one margin of victory among African Americans in South Carolina, many of the southern races will be a blow out for Clinton on Tuesday.
Sanders, the darling of progressive Democrats who put a scare into Clinton’s campaign with narrow losses to her in Iowa and Nevada and a big win in New Hampshire, has lost momentum. He is now struggling to slow Clinton’s march to the magic number of 2,382 delegates needed to lock up the nomination.
Not surprisingly, he holds a huge lead over Clinton going into the primary in his home state of Vermont. But it is a surprise that he is trailing her in Massachusetts, where he was expected to do very well, by eight percentage points in the latest poll. And Clinton leads in Minnesota, which at one time was thought to be another Sanders stronghold.
Clinton and Sanders will be competing in 12 contests – 11 states and American Samoa -- with 865 delegates up for grabs, or roughly 20 percent of the total. A candidate needs to amass at least 2,382 of the 4,763 delegates to the national convention in Philadelphia this summer to claim the nomination.
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Currently, Clinton leads Sanders 544 to 85 in the unofficial delegate count, although Clinton has far more “super-delegates” or party officials currently backing her.
Martin Matishak contribute to this report.