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Bernie Sanders Blames Closed Primaries As Path To The Nomination Narrows

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a campaign rally on New Haven Green in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, April 24, 2016. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/CHARLES KRUPA
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a campaign rally on New Haven Green in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, April 24, 2016. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/CHARLES KRUPA

Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a crushing defeat Tuesday night, losing three out of five states to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by significant margins at press time.

In a speech shortly after most polls closed at 8 pm, Sanders blamed his loss on closed primaries, which barred independent voters from participating in four of five primaries. He did win Rhode Island, which allows participation by independent voters.

“In a general election, Democrat, independent, Republican, has the right to vote for president. The elections are not closed primaries,” Sanders said. “Those folks and independents all over this country will be voting in November for the next president of the United States. And in most cases, we win the independent vote by a 2–1 margin.”

Clinton made another strong showing Tuesday night with non-white voters and city dwellers. Exit polls indicated strong support in cities like Baltimore.

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Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant, who had been working to get out the vote for Sanders in Baltimore’s inner city, lamented that the Vermont senator has not done better with communities of color, who have overwhelmingly backed Clinton.

“He more than any candidate, Democrat or Republican, speaks to our issues,” Bryant told ThinkProgress, noting his progressive racial justice and criminal justice proposals. “I would have thought he’d have more black and brown supporters. But there’s been a translation problem. The gatekeepers have already sworn allegiance to the Clinton dynasty, and most people go with a name they’re already familiar with.”

As his path to the nomination narrows, Sanders’ campaign is reassessing the senator’s prospects following Tuesday’s losses, and key supporters are admitting that it is increasingly unlikely he can clinch the nomination. His campaign and supporters have already turned their attention to how Sanders can use his popularity and influence to shape the Democratic Party even if he is not its standard bearer.

The New York Times reported that aides to Sanders have started pressing party officials for a major role in drafting the platform for the Democratic National Convention in July, especially on including issues like a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, breaking up Wall Street banks, and banning natural gas fracking.