Sanders wins West Virginia primary

WASHINGTON:Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s woes continued to mount as she lost the party primary in West Virginia to Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday. Her delegate lead remains insurmountable and it is highly unlikely that Mr. Sanders will be in a position to match her numbers, but that appears less than reassuring for her.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Stockton, California on Tuesday.

Mr. Sanders has a clear strategy in place — nudge to his side as many of the 719 super-delegates as possible. Super-delegates are unbound party functionaries who can vote as they please in the convention, unlike the elected delegates who are bound to a particular candidate.

Ms. Clinton leads in both categories, bound and super delegates, but it is the second that makes her formidable — 524 have already pledged their support to her; Mr. Sanders has the support of 40. Mr. Sanders has 1,432 bound delegates against Ms Clinton’s 1,716. He hopes to reduce the gap in the bound delegate numbers and woo the super-delegates before the Philadelphia Convention in July.

Best bet against Trump

“Virtually every poll has us way, way ahead of Donald Trump,” said Mr. Sanders on Tuesday in California, the State that has 475 delegates, the highest. The State primary is on June 7. “If you want the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, that’s us,” he said, specifically addressing the super-delegates. “Bernie Sanders defeats Donald Trump by big numbers,” he said.

The Senator indeed has a higher lead over Republican nominee Trump than Ms. Clinton in all opinion polls. Moreover, Mr. Sanders’s popularity continues to rise among many demographic groups, even as that of Ms. Clinton remains stagnant or even slides further among some groups, for instance, the white working class. Mr. Sanders now pitches himself as the better of the two general election candidates before the Democratic establishment. It is ironical as the biggest criticism he faced in the beginning was that his socialist politics would not have any appeal in the general election.

Ms. Clinton is trying to push back by restarting her suspended TV ads ahead of the Kentucky and Oregon primaries on May 17 and moving left, closer to Mr. Sanders, on more issues. She has said that she supports more people joining the government-run Medicare programme, though it is still short of Mr. Sanders’s promise of a ‘Medicare for all’ programme.