Flashback to 2008, and Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in West Virginia by … 41 points. In 2016, however, Hillary went down in defeat by a 15 point margin to Sanders in what may be one of the toughest stings since losing the New Hampshire primary back in February.
Report from CNN:
Bernie Sanders will win the West Virginia primary Tuesday, CNN projects, besting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Sanders’ victory serves as a reminder to Clinton that despite her looming showdown with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, she has yet to formally wrap up her own party’s presidential nomination.
“We now have won primaries and caucuses in 19 states,” Sanders said at a rally in Salem, Oregon Tuesday evening. “Let me be as clear as I can be. We are in this campaign to win the Democratic nomination.”
Sanders acknowledged, however that he faces an uphill climb. And he added a subtle hint that he would seek to unite the party in a general election if he fails to win the nomination.
“While we have many disagreements with Secretary Clinton, there is one area where we agree and that is we must defeat Donald Trump.”
While some of the media have toyed with the idea of referring to Clinton as the “presumptive” Democratic nominee, it sure seems like Democratic voters are not quite ready to bestow that title.
For comparison sake, here is 2008 vs. 2016:
Clinton 66.93% (240,890)
Obama 25.77% (92,736)
Sanders 51.4% (120,231)
Clinton 36.0% (84,176)
Obviously the participation this time around was much, much lower than 2008, so Sanders likely benefited from a more enthusiastic voting base. That’s not to take anything away from his victory, especially since this is a state that went so heavily for Clinton just 8 years ago.
It’s noteworthy that Sanders topped out at 51%, which is below the target he would need to have a chance at catching Hillary in pledged delegates. For that to occur, he would need almost 70% or the vote (or more) in all the remaining contests.