Updated at 10:30 p.m. Eastern on May 3, 2016
Bernie Sanders just got the victory he desperately needed. The Democratic presidential candidate won in the Indiana Democratic primary on Tuesday, which will give him to the momentum he needs to stay in the race and fight on.
The victory does not not fundamentally change the trajectory of the Democratic race, in which Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead in the all-important delegate count. But it offers some much-needed enthusiasm to the Sanders campaign at a crucial moment. After a string of defeats in Northeastern primary states last month, Sanders attempted to reframe the terms of the race, suggesting that even if he does not win the White House, he might still claim victory if he can leave a progressive stamp on the Democratic party platform.
To achieve even that, Sanders will need to prove that he can maintain widespread support. One of the ways the campaign has measured its success throughout the race is by touting its vast network of small-dollar donors. But in the past week, news surfaced that the campaign’s fundraising had taken a hit. Additional primary defeats risk accelerating that decline. The Indiana victory is an opportunity to reverse that. Donors are far more likely to give money when they believe their money will make a difference, and the campaign will have an easier time making that case after a win. Prevailing in Indiana will also help Sanders ward off pressure from Clinton allies who undoubtedly want him to exit the race so that the Democratic Party can coalesce behind its nominee of choice.