With his landslide win in Wisconsin yesterday, Bernie Sanders now has won more of the popular vote in primaries outside the South than has Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s leads in both the overall popular vote and pledged delegate count are due to her huge wins in southern states, most of which will not vote Democratic in November.
With the votes not completely counted in Wisconsin, Sanders has 4,144,651 votes in the 10 primaries outside the South to Clinton’s 4,096,209. In the 22 states outside the South that have had primaries and caucuses, Sanders has won 638 delegates to Clinton’s 531.
Clinton’s lopsided victories in 11 southern states have netted her 4,640,859 votes and 736 delegates to 1,795,355 votes for Sanders and 376 delegates. Hillary won every former state of the Confederacy but the only states Democrats have a reasonable chance of winning in November are Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. While Bill Clinton carried some southern states in his elections, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana, Hillary does not have the same kind of popularity in those states that her husband did. The Republican Party also is more firmly entrenched in most southern states than it was 20 years ago.
Clinton’s victories in the South are mostly due to her popularity with blacks who represent high percentages of the Democratic vote in those states. Even though they only represent about 13 percent of the national electorate, blacks are a major contributor to Democratic victories in general elections because they vote Democratic in overwhelming numbers. Thus, even though Sanders lost the black vote in the South by high percentages, it is extremely unlikely he would lose it in the general election.
Each of the candidates has won five primaries outside the South. Clinton narrowly won Massachusetts, Illinois, and Missouri but Ohio and Arizona by good margins. Sanders won Michigan narrowly but had landslide victories in New Hampshire, Vermont, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Sanders has proven that he can compete effectively with Clinton and he has shown much greater support among younger voters who clearly are not enthusiastic about Clinton and who have a record of much lower voter turnout when they are not inspired by an election, or a candidate.
The Democratic superdelegates, who represent the establishment of the Democratic Party and have an enormous duty to Democratic voters, and to the nation, to ensure that there is a Democratic victory in November, should consider these numbers carefully. That victory depends on the Democrats winning outside the South. Bernie Sanders has shown he can do that. Every poll shows him running stronger than Clinton against every potential Republican candidate.
Sanders is a stronger candidate for President than Clinton. Furthermore, he is more likely to inspire a Democratic voter turnout that will return control of the Senate to the Democrats, and maybe the House as well.