Washington, March 27 (IANS) Bernie Sanders swept to resounding victories in Democratic presidential nomination contests in the Western caucus states of Washington and Alaska, but failed to shake Hillary Clinton’s frontrunner status.
Hawaii is also holding caucuses Saturday as well, but results are expected after midnight here.
“We knew things were going to improve as we headed West,” Sanders said at a jubilant rally before 8,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin — a state that will hold the next major contest in 10 days. “We have a path toward victory.”
Clinton has built up her delegate lead on the back of a strong run in the South, but Sanders argued Saturday that the map now offers more opportunities for his campaign because his wins are being powered by huge turnout among younger voters.
“With your help we’re going to win right here in Wisconsin,” he said. “So don’t let anyone tell you we can’t win the nomination, or win the general election. We’re going to do both of those things.”
But even with his big victories on Saturday, Sanders faces steep hurdles in catching Clinton in the delegate count.
While Washington had 101 delegates up for grabs, Hawaii and Alaska were relatively small prizes — with just 25 and 16 delegates at stake respectively.
With over 90 percent votes counted, Sanders held a wide lead over Clinton in Washington, 72 percent to 28 percent and 80 percent to 20 percent in Alaska.
As delegates are distributed proportionally in Democratic contests, Sanders is likely to get more than three fourths of the delegates in the two states.
Clinton did not address the results publicly on Saturday, but her campaign sought to raise money off her losses in Saturday’s contests, portraying them as a warning to donors, according to CNN.
The size of Sanders’s margins on Saturday served as a warning shot to Clinton, allowing him to make the argument at his rally in Madison that he was “making significant inroads” into Clinton’s delegate lead, CNN said.
In Hawaii, Sanders is backed by the first Hindu-American member of the US House Tulsi Gabbard, who broke with Democratic Party leadership to show her support for Sanders.
In an emotional Sanders campaign ad featuring Gabbard, who served a 12-month tour in Iraq, she talks about the importance of Sanders’s vote against the Iraq War.
“The American people are not looking to settle for inches,” Gabbard says in the ad. “They’re looking for real change.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])