Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, won huge support in voting to decide who will be the Democratic Party’s candidate for US president yesterday, Tuesday.
But establishment candidate Hillary Clinton beat him in four states. In the fifth state, Missouri, the two candidates won almost the same number of votes.
Sanders came very close to repeating his shock victory In Michigan last week. He won 49 percent in Illinois, 43 percent in Ohio, 41 percent in North Carolina and 33 percent in Florida.
In Missouri, there was almost a dead heat. This morning Clinton led by 310,602 votes to 309,071.
These are extraordinary achievements by the Sanders campaign. One poll in Illinois earlier this month had predicted Clinton would win by over 40 percentage points. In the event he nearly won in that state, and he took 70 percent of the votes of people under 45.
Without the Democratic Party grandees and office holders, who are “superdelegates”, Clinton would now have around 1,130 delegates and Sanders would have just over 800 (see below).
But if Sanders is going to beat Clinton he will have to win most of the next set of contests—and by big majorities in some of them. He needs to secure victories in nearly all the three states that vote on 22 March and the three on 26 March.
This is not impossible. Sanders is riding a wave of anger against inequality, the political elite’s corruption and inaction over climate change. Class issues, which have been excluded from debate for decades, are forcing being forced onto the agenda.
One recent survey showed that 57 percent of people aged 18-35 in the US now call themselves working class. This is a big shift given that the term is never used in US political discussion.
These are not “normal times” and Sanders has repeatedly overturned conventional polling predictions.
He is not giving up. As the results came in last night, Sanders tweeted, “Do not settle for the status quo when the status quo is broken.”
But the Democratic establishment is doing all in its power to break Sanders’ challenge—and then corral his supporters behind Clinton’s neoliberal, imperialist and racist policies.
Sanders may soon face a choice—to break free from the suffocating embrace of the Democrats or lead his “political revolution” into the dead end of backing Clinton.
Meanwhile, in the Republican contest, the last remaining establishment candidate Marco Rubio abandoned the fight after losing his home state of Florida. The racist thug Donald Trump extended his lead.
How are US presidents elected?
The US presidential election takes place every four years, and the next one is scheduled for 8 November.
The Republicans and the Democrats choose their candidate through a long process of primaries and caucuses.
Primaries are ballots open to all of the party’s supporters in a particular state. Caucuses are more like party meetings.
They both elect delegates to party conventions, who vote on the candidate. But there are also unelected delegates called “super delegates”.
The precise process differs between parties and states.