Clinton Wins a Lot—But Sanders Holds His Own

By John Nichols

Hillary Clinton won a lot of states and a lot of delegates on Super Tuesday, further securing her status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton stacked up big wins in Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas, and she squeaked out a victory in Massachusetts.

It was a very good night for the former secretary of state. But Clinton was not going for a very good night. She was going for a sweep that would marginalize the insurgent candidacy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The Clinton campaign made an aggressive final push to win the states where Sanders was competitive, and even tried to close the gap in Vermont.

That did not happen. Despite the fact that prominent Vermont Democrats such as current Governor Peter Shumlin and former Governor Madeleine Kunin were actively campaigning for Clinton, Sanders won 86 percent of the vote to just 14 percent for the former senator from the neighboring state of New York. That was the biggest win of the night.

If Sanders had just won Vermont, however, it would not have been enough. The senator needed to show strength outside New England, where had previously won New Hampshire. And so he did. Sanders won the primary in Oklahoma—a state where his rallies in Tulsa and Oklahoma City drew huge crowds, and where he even visited the Woody Guthrie Center—by a 10-point margin. He won big in Colorado, a key swing state where he beat Clinton by an overwhelming 59–40 margin. He won 62–38 in Minnesota, a state where Clinton has the enthusiastic backing of Senator Al Franken, and her surrogates campaigned aggressively right up through Super Tuesday. And in Massachusetts, where Clinton had the support of top officials such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Attorney General Maura Healey, as well as The Boston Globe, he held the front-runner to just 50.3 percent of the vote.

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Clinton has grown steadily more focused and effective in her messaging.

Sanders won as many states from Clinton in the Democratic contests on Super Tuesday as the combined efforts of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio won from Donald Trump in the far more intensely covered Republican contests.

That, to borrow a phrase from Sanders, was “pretty good”—especially considering the fact that the Super Tuesday map was always seen as favoring Clinton. The results allowed the senator to tell his supporters in his Vermont victory speech: “At the end of tonight, 15 states will have voted, 35 states remain. And let me assure you that we are going to take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace to every one of those states.”

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