SANDERS: In it for the long haul.
I argued earlier today
that Hillary Clinton
is almost certainly going to win the nomination but that there is real value in Bernie Sanders
sticking in the race.
Even if the delegate math — and Clinton's ongoing dominance among black voters — probably make it impossible for him to actually take the crown, he can continue to pressure Clinton from the left and change the shape of the debate in the Democratic party. The Sanders campaign has both revealed that Democratic voters are far more liberal than party elites imagined and energized the party's left-wing base. I suspect that we may look back on Sanders as a trial run of sorts — and that down the road a candidate ideologically similar to Sanders, but better suited to make a broad appeal across the Democratic coalition, will win the nomination (that would be a candidate just as left wing but without the "socialist" tag, with a history of working with the Democratic party and coalition, and ideally with a personal story/identity that reflects the party's growing diversity).
Sanders is clearly going to play a major role at the convention regardless. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post notes
that the longer Sanders stays in it, the more he advances his "political revolution," win or lose. Even if Clinton's delegate lead eventually becomes insurmountable, Sanders can be an important player both at the convention and in the general election campaign to come. And he should have no trouble continuing to fundraise to give his campaign the cash it needs to stay in it for the long haul. Here's Sargent
— The Sanders campaign will probably have the resources to keep on going, no matter what happens, because his massive small donor base could very well send in cash again and again, particularly if he suffers some setbacks.
— Sanders will be able to pile up a lot of delegates even if he falters in the long run. That’s because he’s likely to win as many as five states on Super Tuesday to begin with; and beyond that, since delegates are awarded proportionately, he’ll pull in a lot of them even in states where he loses.
— The Sanders campaign still thinks it can win, but even if it doesn’t, taking the race all the way to the convention could still play an important role in the “revolution” Sanders hopes to set in motion.
Sargent notes Sanders' dominance among young voters:
That could give Sanders some leverage later. Clinton will need to get all those young voters to start supporting her in big numbers. Even if turnout is down this year, Sanders — to a far greater degree than Clinton — seems to hold the key to engaging this constituency. He has somehow conveyed to a whole lot of young people that politics can matter in their lives. And remember, Democrats are betting on a new generation of young voters to give them a demographic edge that lasts beyond 2016.
So you could see Sanders playing a role at the convention; in helping shape the agenda for the fall campaign; and in helping engage young voters, this time in preparation for the general election. As MSNBC’s Seitz-Wald reports, the Sanders camp sees such a role as a crucial part of his “political revolution.” Even if he doesn’t win.