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After February and March, Does Bernie Really Have Momentum? Is Hillary Still Inevitable? Here Are the Hard Facts

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 29/03/2016 Kicker

alaska caucus © Provided by The Huffington Post alaska caucus Caucus goers in Juneau, Alaska. (jkbrooks85/Flickr)

The first two months of primary voting are officially over. Bernie Sanders closed out March by trouncing Hillary Clinton on Western Saturday, when Alaska, Washington State, and Hawaii all voted.

The next time Democrats vote anywhere is on April 5th, in Wisconsin.
Many Democrats are breathless: Do Sanders' landslides suggest he can *gasp* actually WIN?
We've got just over a week before the next vote to catch our breath. So ... Inhale. Exhale. And look at the facts.
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Where things stand in the Democratic race, by the numbers:

In the first two months of primary voting in #Election2016, 32 states have voted in Democratic contests, plus two territories and Democrats Abroad.
Popular vote:
Hillary Clinton: 8,924,920
Bernie Sanders: 6,398,420So far, Clinton is beating Sanders in the popular vote by 2,526,500 votes.Delegates:
# pledged delegates already awarded: 2218
# total delegates needed to win: 2383
# of delegates still up for grabs: 2049
Hillary Clinton pledged delegates: 1243
Bernie Sanders pledged delegates: 975
Hillary Clinton total* delegates: 1712
Bernie Sanders total* delegates: 1004*Includes superdelegates, though these aren't set in stone--superdelegates can switch their allegiance.
# delegates Clinton still needs to win: 671
# delegates Sanders still needs to win: 1379States:
Clinton has won:
Iowa, Nevada**, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, American Samoa**, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona
Sanders has won:
New Hampshire, Colorado**, Minnesota**, Oklahoma, Vermont, Democrats Abroad, Kansas**, Nebraska, Maine**, Michigan, Idaho**, Utah, Alaska**, Hawaii**, Washington State**
**States that held caucuses, not primaries. More on that in a sec.

Why Western Saturday suggests Sanders has some mo

1. He won all three states. Boom.
2. He won them decisively. Here's how much of the vote he got:
Alaska: 81.6%
Hawaii: 69.8%
Washington: 72.7%
3. He blew way past expectations. Sanders was expected to win all three states. He didn't just win and win big--he won way bigger than anyone thought he would.
Here's how much Bernie was expected to win by, and how much he won by:

Expected win margin: 8%
Actual win margin: 61.5%
Expected win margin: 8%
Actual win margin: 39.8%
Expected win margin: 17%
Actual win margin: 45.6%
But all 3 were caucuses, not primaries, and that is significant.

Why does it matter whether you win a caucus or a primary?

Bernie Sanders has been rocking caucus votes.
Clinton has won just 1 caucus in the main 50 United States, plus American Samoa, which doesn't vote in the national election in November. All of her other wins have been in regular primaries. Aside from Democrats Abroad (who all sent in absentee ballots), Sanders has won 14 states--8 of them held caucuses, not primaries.

Only 5 caucuses are left for the Democrats:
States: Wyoming on April 9th (18 delegates), and North Dakota on June 7th (23 delegates).
Territories: Guam on May 7th (12 delegates) and the US Virgin Islands on June 4th (12 delegates), and Puerto Rico on June 5th (67 delegates).
Worth noting: Many experts are pointing out that there are only 2 stateside Democratic caucuses left, BUT the biggest # of delegates still at stake in a caucus is in Puerto Rico: 67. That's a good number of delegates--actually, more than Wyoming, ND, Guam, and USVI combined. But many people kinda blow it off because PR doesn't vote in the general election.

Remind me what a caucus is ... ?

In a primary, you show up at your polling place, go into some version of a private booth, cast your vote, and walk out. If you know you won't be able to show up ahead of time, you can often vote early or vote by mail.
In a caucus, members of the political party gather to vote in places ranging from school auditoriums to churches to private homes. Often speeches are made and the event can get raucous.
That can be good.

But there's a big downside too.

Most caucus voting is open--not secret--so your family, friends, and neighbors see how you're voting. As in, you literally raise your hands to vote.

Sure, there are sometimes long lines at primaries (and general elections). But sometimes there isn't and you go right in. Caucuses are never short. They usually take hours.
Why does this matter? Well, many people worry that caucuses often keep certain types of voters out.
If you can't spend hours or can't deal with the crowd or are very private about your selection, you are less likely to show up or stay long enough to vote.

If you're affluent and can easily take off of work or afford child care and don't mind (or enjoy) the lively atmosphere, you're more likely to participate.
seattle washington caucus © Provided by The Huffington Post seattle washington caucus A Hillary Clinton supporter speaking at a caucus in Seattle, Washington. (Joe Mabel/Flickr)

If you're working class, disabled, infirm, elderly, or have kids you can't get help with, you're less likely to participate.

Why is Bernie killing it in caucuses?

Here are three theories:
1. His supporters are very enthusiastic. (Though it's worth noting that in Southern states where Clinton killed it, her supporters were also really psyched.)

2. Sanders fans, especially young voters, tend to enjoy the raucous caucus atmosphere and the impassioned speech-making.
3. Caucuses are mostly in states that are relatively white--the black population of every single caucus state is around or under 10%. (Way more black voters support Clinton than Sanders.)
BTW, some suspect that secret ballots are "rigged" for Clinton.

While others don't trust imprecise caucus voting.

Speaking of race ... that's a big a factor too

So all of Bernie's huge wins on Western Saturday were in caucus states. Also significant: All three states have tiny black and Latino populations.
66% of Alaska is what the US Census defines as "white alone" (as in, purely Caucasian), and 77.4% of Washington is "white alone."
Hawaii is more ethnically diverse: It's a "majority-minority" state, meaning most of the state identifies with a minority population. Only 26.7% of Hawaii is "white alone"--most of the state is made up of people who are Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Still, like Washington and Alaska, Hawaii has tiny black and Hispanic populations.

What to watch for next:

It will be very interesting to see what happens in these upcoming races.
April 5th is Wisconsin.
-Wisconsin is fairly significant, with 86 delegates.
-Clinton and Sanders are neck and neck in the polls right now, so watch this one closely.
April 9th is Wyoming.
-TBH, Wyoming isn't a very big deal. It only has 14 delegates.
-Sanders may well edge Clinton out.
April 19th is New York.
-It's home turf for both: Sanders was born and raised in New York (hence the accent). Clinton currently lives in New York, where she was a fairly popular senator for 8 years.
-She is currently way ahead in NY polls.
-NY has a lot of delegates: 247.
April 26th is 5 Eastern Seaboard races.
-Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island are all voting.
-Right now Clinton is comfortably ahead in CT, MD, and PA.
-PA is the big prize with 189 delegates.
-A total of 384 delegates will be won that day. That's a lot.
So in April, 7 states will vote and 731 delegates will be won.
If Hillary beats Bernie in blowouts in April, she'll be closing in on sewing it up.

If she doesn't, it'll keep being a tough race through May and possibly June.
This article was written by Holly Epstein Ojalvo and originally appeared on Kicker. Kicker explains the most important, compelling things going on in the world and empowers you to get in the know, make up your own mind, and take action. For more, check out the Kicker site, like their Facebook page, or subscribe to their email newsletter.

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