All in all, my political predictions in February and March are holding fairly true, but what no one could have predicted was the blowout wins Sanders has had in the last 5 contests in the Mountain West and West Coast. Pollsters hadn’t even conducted any polls in Washington, expecting it to be Clinton territory since mid-2015.
But Washington could set a trend — the long-expected (at least in my mind) political implosion of Hillary Clinton. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Sanders captured 72.7 percent of the vote — more than 7 in 10 voters — winning every single county.
But Clinton has deep political ties when it comes to Washington, already collecting the non-binding pledges of 10 of the 17 superdelegates allocated to the state.
These 10 are all elected officials, not lobbyists or party cronies, and 9 out of the 10 are up for election this year.
If down-ballot coattails means anything in 2016, we’re going to see some defections out of Clinton’s camp this week, possibly to Sanders, but more likely to the ‘uncommitted’ status of ‘wait-and-see.’ Even if Sanders doesn’t capture the nomination, who in their right mind would go against 7 in 10 Democratic voters?
If down-ballot coat-tails means anything in 2016, we're going to see some defections out of Clinton's camp this week...
Sanders still has a big gap in delegates, but in politics, momentum is everything. In baseball terms, Clinton is on the skids, even though she is up in delegates. When you face that kind of losing streak, bad ju-ju (karma, luck, jinxing, or whatever you’d like to call it) just seems to compound every mistake.
Being on the defensive from Bill Clinton’s ‘awful legacy‘ comments and then almost going into recluse mode for Western Saturday, it seems like she’s playing the role of political firefighter, not the expected place of the front-runner.
Sanders’ speech on Saturday was brilliant, full of energy, and spot on message.
From an independent perspective, Sanders could have another landslide in Wisconsin. The independent vote has faithfully followed Sanders in the open primary states, helping him drive large landslides.
But after Wisconsin, the open primaries start to dry up, with only 5 or 6 (depending on how you define ‘open’) remaining. Sanders is going to have to win in the Democratic strongholds of the North East without the help of independents.
What if he has a blow-out win in Wisconsin, not just the less-than-majority win in Michigan’s Rust-Belt contest, but an over-the-top 70 percent or more win?
During the Western Saturday coverage, CNN commentator Donna Brazile gave Sanders props for not complaining about the rules (pertaining to superdelegates), but at what point does Sanders start actively calling for defections?
The math makes it critical for Sanders to expect and call for these defections.
If nothing changes, Sanders would have to win a little more than 2 pledged delegates for each of Clinton’s delegates won in the remaining contests. In other words, he would have to capture more than 66 percent of the remaining delegates on the path to 2383.
Picking up unpledged superdelegates would be handy, but chopping into Clinton’s superdelegate stash would have a demoralizing effect and would pick up valuable votes at the cost of her losing them.
Because in the end, it’s all about momentum, and Sanders is in the perfect position to pull off a ‘miracle spring’ in the 2016 primary season.