Bernie Sanders staked a hefty portion of his campaign’s fate on his birth state of New York. He was hoping to make it his Battle of Midway, a turning point in which his campaign could clearly show the weakening of the Hillary Clinton machine.
Instead, New York may ultimately be the Vermont democratic socialist’s Waterloo.
Clinton won New York, and she won it big. With some 37% precincts reporting, Clinton had taken more than 60% of the vote, leaving Sanders floundering with under 40%.
Several have previously claimed at different points in the primary race that the Sanders campaign was over, only to see the Senator surge once again. After Sanders won a string of states following the Super Tuesday contests on March 15, Clinton seemed to be vulnerable. At the time, it even seemed possible that Sanders could win some of the ever-important superdelegates away from Clinton, much like they switched allegiances toward then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008.
Now, though, Clinton is in control. Young people may not like it. Progressives may not like it. But the next few states also seem favorable to Clinton. She has polling leads in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and California. If Sanders had pulled off the win he was looking for in New York, perhaps voters teetering on the edge would have fallen into his camp. Without that momentum, it seems likely Clinton will be able to consolidate her support.
Sanders has said that he will continue his campaign until the final state has voted, just like Clinton did against Obama in 2008. He will still likely do that. At this point, though, that becomes as much about continuing to push Clinton to the left as it is about actually picking up votes.
The enthusiasm Sanders has created is real. The support he has received is real. But the fight may be over. The big question now is how much support Sanders will lend to Clinton, and how many of his supporters will vote for Clinton in November instead of taking their ball and going home. Clinton has to find a way to harness the enthusiasm. If she doesn’t, she’ll face a difficult election day in November.