Could Bernie Sanders Win the Nomination After His Surprise Indiana Victory?

Could Bernie Sanders Win the Nomination After His Surprise Indiana Victory?
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders smiles as a bird lands on his podium as he speaks during a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, on March 25, 2016.
Steve Dykes/AP

05/04/2016 AT 02:05 PM EDT

Ted Cruz basically handed the reins of the Republican party to Donald Trump after the Indiana primaries on Tuesday, but things aren't looking so final on the other side of the aisle.

Bernie Sanders pulled out a surprise victory in the Hoosier State, besting Hillary Clinton after weeks of setbacks.

The Indiana win re-invigorated Sanders' campaign, which recently suffered massive campaign cuts. "It's an uphill fight for us. But you know what? I started this campaign 60 points behind Secretary Clinton. We've been fighting uphill from day one," the Vermont Sen. told CNN. "We will continue to fight uphill and I think we still have a narrow path toward victory."

But just how narrow is this path? Does Sanders even have a chance at being the nominee?



Currently, Sanders has 1,400 pledged delegates and superdelegates, to Clinton's 2,202, according to Associated Press tallies. In order to win the nomination, either candidate would need to reach 2,383 total delegates. It is now is mathematically impossible for the Democratic socialist to be victorious without the majority of these superdelegates, a.k.a. party leaders who can vote for whichever candidate they prefer.

Sanders only currently has 39 superdelegates to Clinton's 520. In order to claim a majority of them, Sanders would need to win all of the pledged delegates in the remaining primaries – and not by a narrow gap, like Tuesday, as delegates are handed out proportionally. In addition, he would need to convince some of Clinton's superdelegates to switch their support – something he insisted they do during a Sunday news conference, according to USA Today.

The superdelegates – and California's June 7 primary – is now where Sanders will focus his attention, his aides said on Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Top Sanders advisor Ted Devine admitted to The Washington Post, however, that the candidate must "significantly" close the gap. "We concede that if we don't make that progress, then the task of moving all these superdelegates is practically impossible," Devine said.

Part of this progress strategy involves hammering Clinton and continuing to force the former secretary of state to the left on a variety of issues – including the campaign finance system.

Wrote the Post's Greg Sargent, "For now, then, Sanders' hints at a contested convention are probably designed to keep his supporters engaged in hopes of pulling off a major shift in the remaining dozen contests, or if that doesn't happen, to further build his national constituency in hopes of leveraging some influence over the party's agenda heading into the general election."

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Political pundits are already handing the nomination to Clinton, however, with Nate Cohn writing in the New York Times ahead of Tuesday that Sanders, "has thrived in caucus states, but there is only one of those left: North Dakota."

Cohn explained, "Mr. Sanders could win 64 percent of the vote in a couple of mostly white Western primaries, like Oregon or Montana. But he's unlikely to win by much more. He could win in Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, but is not likely to do so by 64 percent … It is more likely that Mr. Sanders has reached the stage of the campaign where even feel-good victories – like repeats of his genuinely impressive win in Michigan – will leave him too far behind."

And Dave Wasserman, who tracks delegate math for the Cook Political Report, told the Post that "the idea that [Sanders] has a path to a pledged delegate majority is as preposterous as those National Enquirer stories about Ted Cruz's father playing a role in JFK's assassination."

Regardless, Sanders is resilient, telling CNN that he'll remain in the race because, if anything else, "it generates enthusiasm, gets people involved in the political process."
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