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This Is Why Bernie Sanders Vows Not to Drop Out of the Race Anytime Soon

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign event, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Milwaukee. Paul Sancya — AP

With another Super Tuesday in the books, and another resounding victory for Hillary Clinton, the chatter around Bernie Sanders seems mostly focused on when the Senator from Vermont will drop his bid for the White House.

But, in a statement following last night’s primary results, Sanders vowed to remain in the race “until the last vote is cast” and beyond. That’s despite Clinton having won four out of five of Tuesday’s primary votes—Sanders took Rhode Island, while Clinton won bigger delegate contests in Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, along with Delaware. And, it’s despite Sanders’ own admission, earlier this week, that his campaign now has only “a narrow path” to victory in the face of Clinton’s growing pile of delegates (not to mention her stockpile of superdelegates).

Still, Sanders is adamant that, narrow path or not, he still has a shot. Sanders has said it would be “pretty crazy” of him to concede the race before June, when the largest U.S. state, California, holds a primary with more than 500 delegates up for grabs. In fact, Sanders said Tuesday night that he wants to keep fighting until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late-July, where he vows “to fight for a progressive party platform.”

Included in that platform are some of the issues Sanders has championed since first announcing his candidacy a year ago this week, such as a $15-per-hour national minimum wage, Wall Street reform, tuition-free public college, and a Medicare-for-all health care system.

It’s hard to say if Sanders actually believes he still has a chance to win the Democratic nomination. The Senator certainly isn’t letting on if he doesn’t, even as the Clinton campaign (unsurprisingly) calls his bid “virtually impossible” and his own chief strategist, Tad Devine, told the New York Times this week that his campaign would have to “reassess” his path to a nomination after Tuesday.

“If we don’t get enough today to make it clear that we can do it by the end, it’s going to be hard to talk about it. That’s not going to be a credible path,” Devine told the Times on Tuesday, before Sanders went on to win only Rhode Island, a state with just 33 Democratic delegates up for grabs.

But, no matter how Sanders views his campaign’s next steps, the candidate is unlikely to halt his attempt to push the Democratic party toward the more liberal, progressive platforms that have struck a nerve with young and independent voters throughout the primary season.

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On Tuesday, Sanders specifically noted his success with independent voters as a reason why his campaign would stand a decent shot against Donald Trump (most likely) in November’s general election, pointing to the fact that Rhode Island primary was the only Tuesday contest to be open to independent voters, where other states allowed only registered Democrats to participate in the party’s primary voting. “Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats,” Sanders said Tuesday night in a statement. “I am proud of my campaign’s record in that regard.”

Tuesday’s primary results suggest Sanders is unlikely to get the opportunity to show what his resonance with independent voters would mean in a general election. But, the bigger question now seems to be whether or not Sanders will help deliver those voters to Clinton, assuming she is the eventual nominee, or if the Vermont senator will look to spur a contested convention this summer in an attempt to more forcefully thrust his campaign’s message to the fore of the Democratic party.