Sorry Bros, But Bernie Doesn't Have a Chance in California

Sorry Bros, But Bernie Doesn't Have a Chance in CaliforniaEXPAND
File photo by Ted Soqui/L.A. Weekly

California is, as Sen. Bernie Sanders might say, huge.

Nearly one-fifth of the total delegates needed for the Democratic presidential nomination are up for grabs here. The number of pledged delegates alone for the blue party here is 475.

While late-in-the-game timing has made the Golden State irrelevant in past presidential elections, this June things could be a little more exciting, even as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take their seats as the self-appointed nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.

Support for Sanders among young Californians is devotional. But at this point in the game, he really doesn't have a chance. 

For one thing, the Vermont senator would have to take nearly all the delegates in California and every remaining state primary to have a shot, says Dan Schnur, director of USC's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

Data journalism website FiveThirtyEight seems to agree.

"You have to start consistently trouncing your opponent by large margins in every contest," it states. "You need, well, a political revolution."

Yet such a come-from-behind win hasn't been seen in more than 40 years, the site says. And California isn't a winner-take-all state. Sanders is trailing Clinton in Golden State polling.

The last USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll had Clinton leading Sanders by 45 percent to 37 percent. FiveThirtyEight compiled and averaged multiple polls. Its conclusion is that Clinton leads in California 49.6 percent to 40 percent for Sanders.

"According to our latest polls-plus forecast, Hillary Clinton has a 91 percent chance of winning the California primary," the website states.

Ouch.

"It's pretty clear at this point that Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee for president," USC's Schnur told us.

What about all those raging Sanders supporters, like the young people in custom Bernie T-shirts who stood in line to see him speak at the Wiltern Theater in Koreatown last month?

"His strongest support by far is among young people," says Schnur. "But young people vote in much smaller percentages than older generations."

Sorry to burst your bubble.

Schnur acknowledges that Sanders supporters are more enthusiastic — he was greeted as a rock star in Los Angeles — but argues that doesn't necessarily translate into more votes.

"You don't get to vote more because you care more," he said. "A halfhearted vote counts just as much."

So then the question for Sanders becomes, Why are you still here?

Speculation is that the senator wants to influence his party's platform as Clinton inevitably takes on the Republican nominee.

A good showing late in the game would give Sanders "leverage over the party platform to make changes he's prioritized," Schnur says.

He'd also have more influence over Clinton, who would need Sanders' blessing to help win over his supporters, the academic said.

"She needs Sanders," Schnur said. "The question is what Sanders wants in return."

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