It was a clean sweep on Saturday for Democrat Bernie Sanders, who not only won Hawaii’s presidential preference poll, but also caucuses in Washington state and Alaska.
The final count by the Democratic Party of Hawaii showed more than 23,000 ballots were cast for Sanders. That’s 70 percent of the votes cast in yesterday’s preference poll. A little more than 10,000 ballots were cast for his opponent Hillary Clinton.
Based on these totals, Sanders was awarded 17 delegates and eight to Clinton.
But will his wins last night be enough? Sanders is still behind in the overall delegate count, trailing Clinton by around 700.
While the Vermont senator had one of the best days of his campaign Saturday — picking up plenty of momentum with states like California and New York on the horizon — political expert and Hawaii Pacific University communications professor John Hart says it’s still an uphill battle if Sanders hopes to overtake Clinton to capture the Democratic Party nomination.
And when factoring in superdelegates — those unelected who are free to support any candidate at a political party’s national convention — Hillary Clinton didn’t have as bad a day as it seemed.
“If you count the superdelegates in the state delegates, there’s 34, and if you look at the account, it’s 18 for Sanders, 13 for Clinton, with three undecided, which is pretty good if you’re the Clinton campaign.”
Sanders supporters and staffers alike were thrilled with Saturday’s voter turnout — the Democratic Party of Hawaii says more than 33,000 ballots were cast in the presidential preference poll.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who’s been campaigning for Sanders, said she thinks the word is finally getting out to voters, but it was a challenge getting the word out about a candidate many people didn’t know much about not too long ago.
“The real fact of the matter is that there are so many important issues and such high stakes in the selection, and what we’re seeing is democracy at work and people coming out, and I think their voices are being heard,” she said.
“The important thing here — and we saw this as Senator Sanders’ wife Jane came up here to Hawaii about a week ago — is that they’re not taking anything for granted and treating every single person as though it is important, because it is.”
Looking forward, both of Clinton and Sanders campaigns will now turn their focus back to the mainland.
John Hart said Sanders did pick up momentum — but will it be enough?
“If you’re in the Sanders camp, you want to win states,” he said, “you want that kind of momentum and the publicity that it gets you. Clinton is a front runner and doesn’t care so much about how many states she wins at this point because she cares about delegates.
“The most important thing right now is looking at each of the states and getting high voter turnout and the pledge delegates that go along with that,” he said.