Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in two out of the three states that voted in last night’s presidential primary, but he still lost.
Well, technically he won, earning 67 pledged delegates to Clinton’s 51. But at this stage in the primary, that kind of slim margin is always a loss for Sanders. The Vermont senator went into Tuesday night trailing Clinton well over 300 pledged delegates. But despite his big wins in Utah and Idaho, Clinton’s narrower victory in delegate-rich Arizona earned her a big haul and denied Sanders a much-needed blowout. Because all Democratic-primary contests are proportional, he needs to blow out Clinton in every race moving forward to even have a chance of making up the difference.
Both campaigns expected Sanders to win Idaho and Utah, and neither campaigned particularly hard in either state. There were no election night surprises — Sanders won nearly 80 percent of the vote in both contests.
But despite Clinton’s strong lead in a handful of polls, Arizona looked potentially up for grabs. The Sanders campaign invested heavily in ads in Arizona, and the senator himself crisscrossed the state for four days over the previous week. Democratic Arizona congressman Raul Grijalva was a ubiquitous Sanders surrogate in the state, appearing frequently in local media and trying to convince Latino voters to back his candidate.
In the end, it wasn’t enough. Clinton won the state by nearly 20 points, picking up as many delegates as Sanders won in Utah and Idaho combined. Though there were no exit polls in Arizona, but Clinton won majority-Latino counties by massive margins. That doesn’t bode particularly well for Sanders in other delegate-rich, Latino-heavy states like California.
The Sanders campaign isn’t going anywhere. They’ve got the money, and are giving every indication that they’re in the race at least through California’s June 7 primary. But last night’s vote shows that even on a good night, it remains nearly impossible for Sanders to catch up to Clinton.