Sanders dominates in the west, but Clinton takes Arizona
This week, the Democratic primary saw three states vote on what the news cycle decided to call “Western Tuesday.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT) won caucuses in both Utah and Idaho with margins of victory exceeding 50 points. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the Arizona primary by 18 points. Because the entire Democratic primary process awards delegates proportionally, Secretary Clinton gained 55 delegates from the three states, but Senator Sanders won the week with 73 delegates.
Although Sanders won more delegates, it does little to cut into Clinton’s large delegate lead. Currently, without superdelegates, Clinton has 1,220 to Sanders’ 920. With current superdelegates’ current preferences, Clinton has 1,690 to Sanders’ 946. One must obtain 2,382 delegates to get the nomination.
The Sanders campaign hopes to use the wins this week to garner some momentum for primaries this Saturday in Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington. All three of these contests are caucuses, where Sanders has consistently performed better. He hopes to continue the momentum into Wisconsin on April 5, and then work a close race in the Pennsylvania primary on April 26. It appears that even with a deficit of delegates, Sanders will be staying in the race to obtain as many delegates as possible going into the convention.
However, Clinton’s campaign is looking to keep its lead in delegates as the contests continue. With all the primaries being proportional, it is increasingly difficult for Sanders to catch up if Clinton keeps winning delegates. Clinton hopes to do well in Wisconsin on April 5, and hopes to win a large share of the 247 delegates from the state where she once held a Senate seat, New York. She needs 693 more delegates (superdelegates included) to clinch the nomination.
Several issues plagued Clinton’s victory in Arizona. Sanders supporters in particular also complained that the race was called with only 1 percent of precincts reporting, and thousands of people still waiting to even cast their vote. Many voters also reported serious procedural issues; some registered Democrats couldn’t be found on the register and were not allowed to vote. In addition, only 60 polling places were used as opposed to 200 in the previous presidential primary season. The Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton submitted a request to Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch a federal investigation of the circumstances. Arizona’s Republican Governor, Doug Ducey, called the situation “unacceptable.” Still, others like Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, blamed the “voter suppression” on the Republican government in the state, and called on them to fix the voting problems. Republican officials said they lowered the number of polling places to save money.
Sanders was able to sweep the states that came in early on Saturday, winning in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. Sanders managed to clear 70 percent in Washington and 80 percent in Alaska, his biggest win to date.