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Bernie Sanders Wins Alaska, Washington, Hawaii Caucuses

Campaign 2016 Elections Headlines National News Politics

Bernie Sanders Wins Alaska, Washington, Hawaii Caucuses

Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders listen during a Sanders rally at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington March 25, 2016. REUTERS/David Ryder

By John Whitesides and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders easily won nominating contests in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii on Saturday, chipping away at front-runner Hillary Clinton’s commanding lead in the race to pick the party’s candidate for the White House.

Sanders still faces a steep climb to overtake Clinton but the big victories in the West generated more momentum for his upstart campaign and could stave off calls from Democratic leaders that he should wrap up his bid in the name of party unity.

“We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton’s lead and … we have a path to victory,” Sanders told cheering, chanting supporters in Madison, Wisconsin. “It is hard for anybody to deny that our campaign has the momentum.”

Clinton, the former secretary of state, has increasingly turned her attention toward a potential Nov. 8 general election showdown against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, claiming she is on the path to wrapping up the nomination.

Heading into Saturday, she led Sanders by about 300 pledged delegates in the race for the 2,382 delegates needed to be nominated at the party’s July convention in Philadelphia. Adding in the support of superdelegates – party leaders who are free to back any candidate – she has 1,690 delegates to 946 for Sanders.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, needs to win up to two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton, who will keep piling up delegates even when she loses under a Democratic Party system that awards them proportionally in all states.

“These wins will help him raise more funds for the next few weeks but I don’t think it changes the overall equation,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a Clinton supporter. “Hillary Clinton has too big a lead.”

But Sanders has repeatedly said he is staying in the race until the convention, pointing to big crowds at his rallies and high turnout among young and first-time voters as proof of his viability. After raising $140 million, he has the money to fight on as long as he wants.


Message Resonates

He has energized the party’s liberal base and young voters with his calls to rein in Wall Street and fight income inequality, a message that resonated in liberal Washington and other Western states. Sanders won in Utah and Idaho this week.

“Don’t let anybody tell you we can’t win the nomination or the general election,” Sanders told supporters in Wisconsin, which holds the next contest on April 5. “We are going to do both.”

All three contests on Saturday were caucuses, a format that has favored Sanders because it requires more commitment from voters. They also were in states with fewer of the black and Hispanic voters who have helped fuel Clinton’s lead.

“He was just more aligned with my values. I am young and I never knew there could be someone like him in politics,” said Samantha Burton of Seattle, who said Sanders was the first candidate who had inspired her to make a donation.

Jocelyn Alt, a birthing assistant at a Seattle hospital, said she backed Clinton because she believed the times called for someone who could get things done.

“She knows how to make things happen,” she said. “I think Hillary is more likely to win against a Republican.”

After Wisconsin, the Democratic race moves to contests in New York on April 19 and a bloc of five states in the Northeast, led by Pennsylvania, on April 26.

There were no contests on Saturday in the Republican race featuring Trump and rivals U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

On Saturday, the New York Times published a lengthy foreign policy-focused interview with Trump. The New York billionaire told the newspaper he might stop oil purchases from Saudi Arabia unless they provide troops to fight the Islamic State.

Trump also told the Times he was willing to rethink traditional U.S. alliances should he become president.


(Additional reporting by Eric Johnson in Seattle and Chris Michaud; editing by Bill Trott and Jason Neely)

Photo: Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders listen during a Sanders rally at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington March 25, 2016. REUTERS/David Ryder



  1. @HawaiianTater March 27, 2016

    “Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, needs to win up to two-thirds of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton”

    Actually, he needs to win about 56% of the remaining delegates to catch Clinton. Notice how they only mention that the SDs are free to back any candidate but don’t mention that they haven’t actually voted yet and won’t until the convention, which means the media is lying to people when they include them in the totals. Hillary’s lead doesn’t look nearly as big when you don’t include them. They’re only put out now to discourage Bernie’s supporters from voting. Judging by his massive wins in the last 5 states, that’s a strategy that is clearly not working. He’s only behind by about 230 pledged delegates now with 1747 left to go. That is hardly an insurmountable lead.

    After winning Wisconsin and Wyoming, he’ll have basically two weeks to campaign in his home state of NY while riding in on a 7 state winning streak’s worth of momentum. NY might be Hillary’s adopted state but Bernie is a son of Brooklyn. Let’s see if Hillary has the courage to accept his challenge of a debate there. That will be very interesting, indeed.

    1. JPHALL March 28, 2016

      Remember, Bernie left New York years ago. NY is also the home state of Clinton and is not a caucus state. Also there are large numbers of minority Democratic voters unlike the three states Bernie won last week. So nothing is a given and like NY a large minority population is true for California.

      1. @HawaiianTater March 28, 2016

        You do know that Hawai’i is a majority minority state, right? We’re only 26% white. Bernie has already proven that he can do well with liberal minority voters; especially the young ones. For the record, WA is 81%, AK is 67%, CA is 73% and NY is 71% white.

        People can argue over what defines a “home” state but they cannot argue the fact that Bernie was born n raised in Brooklyn and Hillary moved to NY for political reasons. Will that play a role? We shall see.

        I agree that nothing is a given. Nobody in the Bernie camp is taking anything for granted. He’s done what he needed to do to still be in the race at this point. If he does well in NY, the fight will continue.

        1. JPHALL March 29, 2016

          You are getting better at this, but still missing the big picture. Yes, Hawaii is a minority state. But without that big of a Black or Latino population. We both know that these groups vote overwhelmingly for Clinton. Clinton needs a lot less delegates than Bernie to secure the nomination. The upcoming votes in Pennsylvania, New York and California, though Liberal states, have a large non – white vote and as yet favor Clinton. They also have a huge delegate count. We will see what happens. But Bernie needs these votes more than Clinton and none are caucus or winner take all states . As to the “home state” question, Bernie left NY in 1968 for Vermont. Clinton represented the state as Senator from 2001 to 2009. You really think that mere birth overrides being an elected generally loved official of the state. My bet is Clinton takes NY, California and New Jersey by enough to win the nomination. Subject: Re: Comment on Bernie Sanders Wins Alaska, Washington, Hawaii Caucuses

          1. @HawaiianTater March 30, 2016

            Getting better at this? Pfft. I’ve always been good at this, JP. You’re just now catching up. 😉

            Hey, you make sound, logical points about who’s “home” state it is. I’m just not so certain people will feel that way about it. Bernie’s Brooklyn accent is still very pronounced, no matter how long ago he left. Moving to a place and being from a place is not quite the same perception. There will be a lot of prominent New Yorkers like Spike Lee campaigning hard for him and New Yorkers are notorious about being protective of their own. That debate will be treated like a heavyweight title fight of old. Maybe they can have it at the Garden and get Michael Buffer to moderate! lol

            I don’t feel like searching for the numbers right now but Bernie has already been doing well with minorities outside of the South. The were multiple majority Latino counties in WA that he won. He’s done much better with African-Americans outside of the South and his numbers are rising as he goes. Citing high minority populations as being Clinton country is not the lock you think it is. We shall see. We’ll know in 3 weeks whether or not this will be a fight to the finish.

          2. JPHALL March 30, 2016

            As I have been saying all along, we will see. Denial is not the river in Egypt. Blacks and Latinos, not their college student children, vote overwhelmingly for Clinton. That being said no one knows what will happen. But a reminder. The Democrat process is not a winner take all thing. If Bernie only gets half the remaining delegates he will lose. It is that simple.
            Subject: Re: Comment on Bernie Sanders Wins Alaska, Washington, Hawaii Caucuses

          3. @HawaiianTater March 30, 2016

            *Southern blacks voted overwhelmingly Clinton. The margins are rising elsewhere. And he’s done a lot better with Latinos than you think he has; better than half in certain states.

            I’ve never been in denial about anything. He needs 57% of the remaining delegates to beat her. I predict he will catch and pass her on June 7th. 😉

  2. Otto T. Goat March 28, 2016

    Bernie does well with white voters, too bad blacks and Mexicans don’t like him.

  3. itsfun March 28, 2016

    Could a honest and trustworthy person actually win a Presidential nomination in America?

  4. yabbed March 28, 2016

    Bernie can win caucuses, that’s true, because caucuses are where Republicans can go in that day and register as a Democrat or an Independent and vote for Bernie.

    1. A_Real_Einstein March 28, 2016

      She is getting her ass kicked day after day. Not much of a front runner. Bernie will take the voted delegate lead in CA. Cancel the coronation the revolution is here.

    2. @HawaiianTater March 28, 2016

      The reason Bernie does so much better in caucuses is because there are no voting machines and early ballots for the DNC to tamper with.

    3. Otto T. Goat March 28, 2016

      No one is doing that.

  5. A_Real_Einstein March 28, 2016

    So the question becomes when Bernie arrives at the convention with more voted delegates will the Superdelegates follow suit and go with the will of people?

    1. @HawaiianTater March 28, 2016

      I don’t consider that to be a question at all. Of course they will. The DNC may be corrupt but they are not suicidal. Blatantly rigging the election like that and defying the will of the people would put the base in full on revolt. Not only would it tank the WH election, it would kill them in down ballot voting too. They’re already doing everything they can to rig the primary voting to assure Hillary gets the most pledged delegates but if/when Bernie wins more, they won’t have any choice but to go with him.


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