Bernie Sanders' biggest problem comes down to math

Some of you are probably old enough to remember when Bernie Sanders was the undisputed frontrunner in the Democrats’ nomination process and was projected to come out of Super Tuesday with an “insurmountable” lead in earned delegates. And then South Carolina happened. Over at National Review, Rich Lowry asks the question that’s no doubt plaguing the minds of Bernie Bros across the nation. When will Sanders overtake Biden in the delegate race? Unfortunately for the socialist faithful, the answer probably isn’t going be tomorrow’s Mini-Super Tuesday contests. And he’s not going to catch up by dragging more delegates out of California when the counting there is finished either.

Unless there’s a revolution in the status of the race, it’s hard to see Bernie’s opening to do it. Apparently he’s been saying that he might catch Biden when all the California delegates are allocated, but that’s not plausible. From NBC’s First Read:

On Wednesday night, Bernie Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that the outstanding delegates in California could still make him the overall delegate winner from Super Tuesday.

“At the end of the count in California, where we have won and will win a whole lot of delegates, I think at the end of the day, we may be a little bit ahead of Biden.”

That’s optimism on Sanders’ part as near as anyone can tell. Yes, there are still plenty of delegates left to be awarded in California when the counting is finally finished (151). But unless there’s a huge shift in the way the early voting ballots have been breaking, Bernie is only likely to close the gap on Biden by about 25 earned delegates. And he’s ignoring the fact that there are also more delegates left to be awarded in Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Alabama, all of which were won by Biden. (By a huge margin in Alabama.) If anything, Sanders could actually wind up further behind than he is currently.

Things aren’t looking any better for tomorrow in terms of Bernie’s prospects, either. Lowry points to this quick assessment from Steve Kornacki.

Sanders appears to be focusing most of his energy right now on a big comeback in Michigan. It’s the state that The Hill is describing as a “must-win” for the socialist candidate. And while it’s possible that he might still pull it off, it’s certainly not looking like the blowout people were expecting a couple of weeks ago. The second to last poll we have shows Bernie up by nine, but that was taken before South Carolina and Super Tuesday. The latest one, taken after those states voted, shows Biden up by six. We could be seeing yet another seismic shift in a short period of time.

Even if we assume that Sanders somehow still wins Michigan, it’s probably going to be very tight, netting him only a handful more delegates than Biden. On the same day, five other states are voting and the breakdown should be worrying for Sanders’ supporters. You can find a roundup of the latest polls out of those states here.

Nobody has even bothered polling Mississippi in the past month, but Biden is expected to win by fifty points or more. Sanders may have a chance in both Missouri and Washington state, but they’re both looking very close. The only places where Bernie might run up some big wins are Idaho and North Dakota, but they only have 34 delegates between them to offer.

In other words, The bigger pots of delegates are likely to either fall heavily to Biden or be close splits, whereas Sanders’ strongest pools of support are the places with the fewest delegates. That’s just the math, folks, and it’s not looking good for Sanders. I still don’t believe that tomorrow will wind up being a knockout blow, but if Joe Biden has too many more good days like we’ve been seeing recently, the door may be closing on the hopes of Bernie’s “revolution.”