Democratic Caucuses: Bernie cleans up out west (It's a sweep)

Today was Western Saturday for the Democrats while the GOP hopefuls had the day free to continue working the refs in Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did battle again in Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii. All three of them are caucus states, a format which has given Hillary some trouble in the past and would prove poisonous to her once again this weekend. (One interesting note is that the only place where Clinton did any paid television advertising was in the Aloha State.)

The results began coming in relatively early and Bernie’s streak in caucus states only expanded. Sanders was the early projected winner in Alaska by a staggering margin of 79-21 with roughly three quarters of precincts reporting. Hillary didn’t do much better in Washington, losing to Sanders 76-24 when the race was called with about 1/3 reporting. Alaska has just 16 pledged delegates, but Washington has 101.

Alaska is very difficult to poll on the best of days and the most recent numbers we had were from January, when the candidates were in a virtual tie within the margins. But the system seemed designed for Bernie to exceed expectations and the turnout at most precincts was reported to be much higher than normal, so that clearly worked to Sanders’ favor.

Hawaii has 24 of delegates and nobody seemed to be making very firm projections there either. The caucus doesn’t even begin until 7 pm eastern, so I’ll probably just add an update in the morning for how that goes.

UPDATE: Politico reported at roughly 4 in the morning (eastern) that Hawaii was a replay of the last two caucuses.

Sunday, with 87.8 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders was declared the winner in Hawaii, leading Clinton 70.6 percent to 29.2 percent.

As a strange side note, nobody had done any polling in Washington (which seems odd for such a delegate rich state) but the Sanders people were on every network talking about the massive turnout, particularly among younger voters. This was the big fish of the day and Sanders seemed to feel that if they could chalk up a YUGE win and take most of those delegates he could be back on the path to victory.

Color me skeptical. Sanders still has to overcome not just Clinton’s current pledged delegate lead, but the hundreds of superdelegates she has locked down. In theory they could change their minds, but these aren’t rank and file voters. They’re all party regulars who will probably be unwilling to risk the wrath of the Clintons’ political machine. And unless Sanders can translate today’s victories into some actual momentum he’ll be heading back to the northeast and midwestern states soon where Clinton performs much better. Frankly, unless she gets indicted I don’t see the superdelegates abandoning ship in enough numbers to let Bernie take the nomination in Philadelphia.