Sanders concedes Missouri primary

posted at 8:41 pm on March 17, 2016 by John Sexton

Hillary Clinton won everywhere Tuesday but in Missouri her lead over Bernie Sanders was so narrow it seemed a recount would be necessary. Today, Sanders conceded the race rather than seek that recount. He told the AP the difference between winning and almost winning, in terms of delegates awarded, was too little to worry about:

“I think it’s unlikely the results will impact at all the number of delegates the candidate gets and I would prefer to save the taxpayers of Missouri some money,” Sanders said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“Whether we win by 200 votes or lose by 500, it’s not going to impact the delegate selection,” the Vermont senator added. “It’s going to be evenly divided.”

Missouri delegates are proportionally allocated so Sanders is right, though the AP notes Clinton will pick up two extra delegates for winning the contest. This is not the first state where Sanders has had a close loss. In Iowa he lost with 49.6% of the vote to Clinton’s 49.9 percent. And in Nevada he finished with 47.3% of the vote to Clinton’s 52.6 percent.

The win in Missouri means Clinton won all five contests Tuesday. And that means Sanders has a very slim chance of coming back from the delegate deficit he is in right now. The good news for Sanders is that the worst, from his perspective, is over. He is more competitive in the north and west than he was in the south, where black voters in particularly sided with Clinton. Still, Sanders would have to win in coastal states where he is not currently favored to come back. Nate Cohn at the NY Times looked at Sanders’ chances earlier today:

If Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton split the delegates along the Eastern Seaboard and the territories — which is very generous to Mr. Sanders — he might still need to win California by more than 100 delegates, or at least 20 points, to close Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead. If he loses along the Eastern Seaboard, as expected, or even in the territories, his goal in California would grow larger very quickly.

Realistically, Tuesday was probably the end for Sanders’ insurgency unless something very dramatic happens (say, an FBI recommendation for prosecution) that gives his party’s voters serious hesitation about voting for Clinton.

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