Bernie Sanders won't win. Here's the math.

Bernie, It’s Over. Look at the Math.

Bernie, It’s Over. Look at the Math.

The Slatest
Your News Companion
April 20 2016 10:09 AM

Here’s Just How Bad the Post–New York Delegate Math Looks for Bernie

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Bernie Sanders speaks to an overflow crowd at a campaign event at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center on April 9 in the Queens borough of New York.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton posted a 15-point win in New York on Tuesday, a performance that came with victories of both the moral and mathematical variety. Bernie Sanders is promising to fight on—perhaps even all the way to the convention—but a close look at the numbers suggests that the Democratic race is now all over but the shouting.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Let’s crunch some numbers.

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(A note on my methodology: I’m working off estimates from the Associated Press, which has yet to allocate the bulk of Democratic delegates from Washington state, where Bernie beat Hillary by about 45 points last month. That means these numbers may be slightly too kind to Clinton, though the back-of-the-envelope math still paints a very dark picture for Sanders.)

Here’s what the overall delegate count (including superdelegates) looks like as of Wednesday morning:

  • Hillary Clinton has 1,930 delegates, or 81 percent of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination 
  • Bernie Sanders has 1,189 delegates, or 50 percent of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination  

There are 1,646 total delegates yet to be allocated:

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  • Clinton needs 28 percent of them to reach 2,383
  • Sanders needs 73 percent of them to reach 2,383

The Sanders campaign continues to believe that the majority of the Clinton-backing superdelegates will eventually change their mind. While I can’t imagine that happening—these delegates, remember, are part of the Democratic establishment by definition—but for the sake of argument, here’s where things stand if you remove those party officials and elected leaders from the equation and just look at pledged delegates won by each candidate to date:

  • Clinton has 1,428 pledged delegates—60 percent of the 2,383 needed to secure the nomination, and 70 percent of the 2,027 needed to claim a majority of all pledged delegates.
  • Sanders has 1,151 pledged delegates—48 percent of the 2,383 needed to secure the nomination, and 57 percent of the 2,027 needed to claim a majority of all pledged delegates.

Team Sanders (rather cleverly) is using the very existence of superdelegates to their advantage, arguing that Clinton can’t say 100 percent, beyond-any-shadow-of-a-doubt that she has locked up the nomination unless she wins 2,383 pledged delegates during the primary season. There are currently 1,474 pledged delegates still to be allocated according to the AP, which leaves Hillary with some more work to do to clear that higher bar:

  • Clinton needs to win 65 percent of the outstanding pledged delegates to reach 2,383, and 41 percent to reach 2,027.
  • Sanders needs to win 84 percent of the outstanding pledged delegates to reach 2,383, and 59 percent to reach 2,027.

Hillary’s won roughly 55 percent of pledged delegates to date, making that 65 percent target a high bar, and that 41 percent target a relatively low one. (Bernie, meanwhile, would need a serious reversal of fortunes to approach even that 59 percent figure in the remaining contests.) Sanders is promising to take the fight the whole way to the convention, but—barring some catastrophic turn of events for his rival—the math won't look much better for Bernie once he arrives in Philadelphia.