The bottom line is if Bernie Sanders has any chance left of winning this nomination, he will need massive 25-30 point wins to run the table, starting in Washington state tomorrow.
Without a big win in Washington Saturday, there’s no path forward for Bernie Sanders. And that cold political reality has turned this state into an unlikely battleground between the Vermont senator and Hillary Clinton.
Sanders recognizes Washington is as close to a must-win as it gets after his disappointing loss in Arizona on Tuesday. With 101 delegates at stake, only New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California have more delegates at play after this weekend. If he has any hope of catching Clinton, he’ll have to start here, in a state where progressive-oriented Seattle sets the tone.
“If Senator Sanders is ever going to do well, I think it would be in Washington,” explained Gov. Jay Inslee, a Clinton supporter, acknowledging Sanders’ appeal in his state. “That’s no surprise."
Clinton doesn’t have as much urgency to win. She simply needs to keep it close, to deny Sanders the kind of runaway caucus victory that could dent her 300-plus delegate lead and provide him some desperately-needed momentum going into the April 5 primary in Wisconsin, another state that figures to be receptive to his brand of progressive politics. (Alaska and Hawaii, much smaller delegate contests, also hold caucuses on Saturday.)
But it won’t be easy to hold Sanders back. According to one analysis, Seattle ranks No. 1 among the 50 biggest U.S. cities for per-capita contributions to his campaign. He’s got seven campaign offices in the state and has drawn huge crowds in his visits to the Pacific Northwest. While most of the state's high-profile Democrats are backing Clinton, Sanders has the endorsement of the state’s largest newspaper, the Seattle Times -- by far his biggest endorsement from a daily publication.
Is it possible? Sure, mathematically Sanders has not been eliminated. Is it probable? Again, Washington is a caucus state, not a primary state, something that definitely favors him. The state has a very low black population (4%) and a larger than average Millennial population. If there's anywhere that Sanders can shave off a chunk of Clinton's substantial delegate lead, it's tomorrow.
The issue at this point is time and math. Sanders will need to win here by a lot, and he'll have to continue winning all the remaining contests by 30 points, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California by those margins, and the numbers just aren't there for him to do more than break even.
And a Clinton win here where she increases her delegate lead? If that happens here tomorrow, Bernie's done.
We'll see what happens tomorrow.