Senator Bernie Sanders knew he wasn’t going to win South Carolina, and he knew he didn’t need to win South Carolina. So by the time polls closed today, he was long gone.
As the Democratic front-runner, he had that luxury.
“You can’t win ’em all,” Sanders told a rally in Virginia tonight before congratulating former Vice President Joe Biden on his first primary win.
The real march to the party’s presidential nomination begins on Tuesday, when 14 states vote. More than one-third of the delegates who will convene at the national convention in Milwaukee this summer are at stake Tuesday. The biggest prizes include California, Texas, and Virginia, where Sanders had already flown to tonight in a bid to make sure that his blowout loss to Biden was merely a hiccup, and nothing more.
Sanders remains well positioned in the Super Tuesday states, and unlike Biden, he has the money to capitalize on his narrow victory in New Hampshire and his much larger caucus win in Nevada last week. He also is benefiting from early voting: More than 2 million people have already cast ballots in Democratic primaries in Super Tuesday states, potentially limiting the bounce that Biden will pick up from South Carolina. Nowhere is that more significant than in California, where Democrats have been voting for nearly a month and where polls show that Sanders is leading by as many as 20 points. The senator from Vermont is also up, though by a narrower margin, in Texas, and victories in those two states, along with strong results elsewhere, could ensure that Sanders emerges from Tuesday with a significant lead in overall delegates.