Bernie Sanders likely never expected he'd be here — in a serious race for the Democratic nomination in the middle of March. Hillary Clinton certainly never thought that Sanders would still be on the stage at this point. But a dissatisfied electorate, an incredibly strong fundraising game, and a distinct distaste for Clinton have led him here, the leader of a surprising movement within the Democratic Party.
Yet after tonight, the party is probably over for the Sanderistas. The Bern has been felt, to be sure, but the ointment has been applied and it turned out not to be as serious as we originally thought.
Sanders lost in Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois. Missouri is still too close to call, but even if Sanders wins it would be by the thinnest of margins. He was already facing a likely insurmountable gap in delegates. After losing these four states, including two in the Midwestern region that was supposed to be his sweet spot, it's starting to look like Sanders has lost the momentum he claimed he had after last week's improbable win in Michigan.
The Sanders campaign has vowed to stay in the race until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this July. And given his ability to raise money, he can probably hang tough. But the time has come for Sanders' supporters to accept that his chances at winning the nomination are virtually done.
Frankly, it's remarkable that Sanders has gotten as far as he has. An older democratic-socialist from a small Northeastern state has given the Clinton machine a legitimate challenge. He's changed the national conversation on banks, on trade, and on student debt. There is no question that Clinton has had to move to the left on issues she wouldn't have had to if Sanders hadn't been so successful.
But, despite the fact that there are plenty of votes left to be cast, the die has likely been cast. Sanders ran a miraculous campaign, but his magic is fading.