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Can Bernie Sanders still win? Here’s what the delegate math says

Can Bernie Sanders still win? Here’s what the delegate math says
[Photos: Flickr user Gage Skidmore (Biden); Matt A.J./Flickr (Sanders)]

Former Vice President Joe Biden had another sweeping victory in the Democratic primaries last night, winning in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Idaho. That means Biden now has a sizable lead over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, with 836 delegates to Sanders’s 686, according to NBC News. Biden’s biggest boost came when he won Michigan last night, with its 125 delegates.

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The change in Biden’s fortunes is remarkable considering that just weeks ago his campaign was looking like it was on its last leg. At the time, it was also looking like Sanders would become the Democratic nominee. There is, of course, still the chance that Sanders can pull off the 1,991 delegates needed to win the nomination, but that window is closing.

Big states still up for grabs

Next week is going to be a big week when it comes to doling out delegates. Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona all go to the polls, with a total of 577 delegates up for grabs. Florida’s 219 delegates are the biggest prize, but as NPR notes, the demographics don’t work out well there for Sanders.

Next, Georgia and its 105 delegates are up for grabs on March 24—and given the higher percentage of African American voters there, Georgia also looks to be a Biden win. April 4 sees Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Wyoming with 107 delegates at stake.

But April 28 will be the biggest week when it comes to delegates. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have a total of 663 delegates up for grabs.

As NPR points out, this would be the make-or-break time for Sanders. He would need to sweep most of the states up for grabs before then and still need to walk away the massive winner on April 28 as well:

A lot of [the April 28th states] are mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states that may lean Biden’s direction—Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, for example. New York is the biggest prize that day, but even if Sanders wins it, if he’s not rolling into that day with victories elsewhere he won’t be able to net the delegates he needs for the nomination.

In other words, the delegate math doesn’t point to a firm winner yet. But given Biden’s continued resurgence, Sanders would have to stage a massive comeback, winning most states between now and April 28 to have a chance of clinching the 1,991 delegates needed.

Biden still needs to win a lot of those states, but he needs fewer of them to hit the same 1,991 delegates. And given Biden is more likely to win many of those states, the delegate math seems to be in his favor.

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