After the dust began to settle on the Democrats’ primary battle in Indiana last night, Ed and I were discussing this on the “Winners and Losers” edition of the Facebook Live stream. (Which you can watch here if you missed it.) The exit polls gave an early hint of just how wrong the surveys of the past couple of weeks had been, and a race which Hillary Clinton seemed to have locked up slipped away from her at the eleventh hour by a significant margin. So did that make Bernie one of the big winners of the night? The press certainly cast doubts on that being the case. (NBC News)

Bernie Sanders is the winner of the Democratic primary in Indiana, NBC News projects.

But the outcome is all but certain not to knock Hillary Clinton’s march to the Democratic nomination off course. Because Indiana Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, the close race between the two candidates ensures that Sanders will capture only a small net delegate gain, leaving him still well behind Clinton in the race for support.

In remarks to reporters in New Albany, Indiana, Sanders argued that he is the better candidate to compete in a general election against Donald Trump, whose win in Indiana Tuesday night set him on course to become the likely GOP nominee.

Hillary Clinton had clearly been hoping for a knockout punch in the Hoosier State and Sanders made reference to that in his victory speech across the river when he said that he had some bad news for Secretary Clinton. It was immediately clear that Bernie isn’t going anywhere, but that phrase means two very different things if you ask both his supporters and the realists observing the race. True, he’s “not going anywhere” if you were wondering if he would bow out of the race, but it’s equally true that he’s not going anywhere in terms of getting closer to the Democratic nomination.

Sanders needs to face the brutal reality that we’re past the portion of the campaign where the “Big Mo” has a lot of meaning. In the early days, when all of the known unknowns are still in play, a string of victories – even in small states with few delegates – can translate into a lot of earned media and a wave of donations and support moving forward. But we’re now in early May and the thermometer is just about to pop on this turkey. Sanders won somewhat handily last night, but because of the proportional nature of the Democrats’ delegate allocation process he’s only going to come away with a relative handful more delegates than Clinton. (And let’s not even gets started again on the Superdelegates from Indiana.)

There are only nine states left and Bernie could win all of them by the same margin, yet fall pitifully short of a majority of even the bound delegates in Philadelphia, say nothing of the floating supers. The only victory Sanders managed to secure last night was a temporary advantage for the Republicans. Clinton obviously wanted to finish him off and conduct the full pivot, turning her attention to Donald Trump. But now, badly in need of Bernie’s supporters in the fall, she will have to continue politely pretending to take him seriously for a few more weeks while Trump wheels the gun turrets around in her direction.

So was Bernie a winner last night? Only the most brief and fleeting of ways.

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