Long after many went to sleep for the night, though I was up until 3:00 a.m., the race in California was finally called for Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s lead stayed around 400,000 votes for most of the night and with 95% of the vote currently in, her lead is still right around that number; 424,543 votes to be exact.
The only ballots left to be counted are the one’s that were mailed in before midnight last night. Either way, there is no way Bernie makes up that deficit.
Sanders put all of his chips into California, barnstorming the state for the last two weeks. A win here would not have changed the overall outcome of the race, but it would have given him a considerable amount of additional leverage over Clinton and the DNC.
There was growing evidence his “all-in” approach to California was paying off as polls showing Clinton up double digits just a few weeks prior, closed rapidly in the days before the primary.
But alas, it was all for not. Not only did Sanders lose California, he lost big.
As expected, Sanders is staying in through the DC primary, where he will likely lose by a large margin considering the demographics of the electorate. He said last night he was taking the fight for social justice, etc. to the convention. He did not mention anything about winning the nomination.
On Thursday, Sanders will meet with President Obama at the White House, presumably to talk about an exit strategy and begin the process of uniting the party.
One thing is clear, however. Though he may not be the nominee, in a way, Bernie Sanders won this primary. His message is carrying the day. Clinton talks about protecting Main Street from Wall Street, more infrastructure investments, and debt free college more now than she did when this whole thing started.
She has always stood for these things in some way shape or form, but now these issues are at the forefront of her stump speeches. I would not expect that to change anytime soon.
The young people who voted for Sanders in droves represent the future of the party. Bernie’s message of higher wages, free healthcare and college, and ending Wall Street’s strangle hold on the economy clearly resonated with them and candidates today, and in the future, will have to face that reality.
And contrary to the narrative, it was not exclusive to young white voters. Sanders performed considerably better among younger African American and Hispanic voters than he did with the older generation.
Whether Democrats like it or not, this is the direction the party is going in. Personally, I am fine with these issues being priorities so long as our party remains pragmatic. What we do not need is for the party to become the Tea Party for the left where anything short of 100% ideological purity means you are the enemy. We can shift our priorities and still be the party of grown ups who want to get things done.
That aside, Sanders is now a major player in the Democratic Party and will be for some time. It is not quite as glamorous as being President of the United States, but for a campaign that started in relative obscurity and for a candidate who was an Independent as recently as a year-and-a-half ago, being a major influence in the country’s oldest political party is a victory in itself.