Bernie Sanders did very well in Tuesday’s democratic nomination contests, but the media once again did a very poor job of reporting the news the day after.
The following CNN headline pretty much sums up the tenor of the majority of articles reporting on the contests: “Primary results: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton score key Western victories”.
Some of them added something like: “Cruz, Sanders take Utah”.
On the inside, two phrases kept cropping up: “delegate-rich Arizona”, “the biggest prize of the night”. Bernie’s Utah and Idaho landslides, on the other hand, CNN referred to merely as “morale-boosting” victories.
The reality is: Bernie Sanders won nearly 80% of the vote in Idaho and Utah, and netted 34 more delegates than Hillary Clinton in those two states. The “easy”, “convincing”, “decisive” victory that Hillary “notched” in “delegate-rich Arizona” – her “big prize” – ultimately amounted to a 13-delegate advantage in that state.
The journalists most generous to Bernie (or the truth) had him netting 6 or 7 more delegates overall. The least faithful quietly folded away the delegate counts, and merely suggested that Hillary’s win overshadowed Bernie’s (it did, but only because they made it so).
I am still waiting for a single news article reporting the actual net result: 58% of delegates won, and a 21-delegate advantage for Bernie.
(The Green Papers, linked under the graphic, is the most reliable source I have found)
Bias or Incompetence?
Part of the problem is that accurate reports were not easy to come by. The most official-looking sources were reporting misleading numbers. At one point, the New York Times’ live results for Arizona showed Hillary leading 43 delegates to 22.
But reporters must have been either too lazy, too incompetent or too eager to call a big win for Hillary – take your pick. All that was needed was to know the number of delegates at stake in each state, and to look at the voting percentages. That would have been enough to realize that many remaining delegates would go to Bernie.
When all the chips are counted, Bernie Sanders had a remarkably good primary day on Tuesday, and here’s why.
What could Bernie realistically have hoped to achieve going into Tuesday? 30-35 point wins in Idaho and Utah, and a 5 point win in “delegate-rich Arizona”? That would have netted him about a 21-delegate advantage overall, which is exactly what he got on Tuesday.
Pundits have been saying that Bernie needs 58% of pledged delegates going forward from March 15. Again, that’s exactly what he got. If you add last week’s Democrats Abroad primary, which Bernie won by 40 points, Bernie has racked up 59% of delegates since March 15.
Bernie’s Utah and Idaho 60-point blowouts also bode extremely well for Saturday’s caucuses.
Like Utah and Idaho, these are all (practically) open caucuses (Alaska and Hawaii are closed, but allow same-day registration). Moreover, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has projected even better chances for Bernie in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington than in Idaho and Utah
Bernie significantly outperformed Nate Silver’s predictions in those two states on Tuesday. Does this indicate he can pull off the same feat on Saturday, and sweep the 142 delegates at stake?
It is up to the people of Alaska, Hawaii and Washington to decide. So get to the caucuses.