Bernie Sanders is within his rights to remain in the race for the Democratic nomination until the bitter end. Under normal circumstances, I’d counsel him to keep campaigning, giving voters in remaining primaries a choice and trying to influence the process by winning as many delegates as possible.
But Sanders was crushed in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona yesterday, much as he was crushed in the last two clusters of primary contests. His opponent, Joe Biden, has amassed an almost-insurmountable lead in delegates. Sanders has almost no chance of winning many upcoming states, including Louisiana, Georgia, and Delaware. And surrounding circumstances could hardly be less normal.
The next contests are highly likely to coincide with coronavirus quarantines, surging hospitalizations and deaths, and a nationwide effort to practice various degrees of social distancing.
Already yesterday, “there were reports of primary voting mishaps,” Jessa Crispin notes at The Guardian. “Polling places were not open, workers and volunteers did not show up, and there did not seem to be safety precautions in place in several locations to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
And one could hardly conceive of a worse time for septuagenarian candidates to be out campaigning, for “get out the vote” workers to be knocking on doors, or for young, able-bodied volunteers to be dedicating their time and effort to a primary contest with an all but forgone conclusion when they could be delivering meals to the elderly or providing child care for medical workers.