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Feel the burn

Clinton campaign trolls Bernie Sanders on Twitter about delegate lead

March 17, 2016

Correction appended.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign staffers took to Twitter on Thursday to have a little fun at the expense of Senator Bernie Sanders. At least two staffers posted photos showing a large delegate scoreboard on a wall inside Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. In the photos, staffers are seen using colored markers to tabulate the number of delegates Clinton and Sanders each has won so far in the 2016 primary contest. One photo, posted on Twitter by Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri, is accompanied by a snarky message saying, “Exhausting filling in all those blue squares. Seems almost insurmountable. #ImWithHer #ShesWithUs.”

Moments earlier, Emmy Bengston, who handles social media for the campaign, posted a photo showing two staffers tabulating — in blue markers for Clinton and pink markers for Sanders — along with the message, “OH at Hillary HQ: ‘We’re gonna need more blue markers.'”

There’s no doubt Clinton has amassed a formidable lead in the race for the Democratic nomination. But a close look at the delegates and super delegates suggests the lead may not be something to boast about yet. As the race stands now, Clinton has won 1,139 delegates to Sanders’s 825. Adding super delegates to that count and Clinton’s lead swells to 1,606-851 over Sanders. In order to mount a come-from-behind win, Sanders would need to win 66 percent of the remaining delegates to reach the winning number of 2,383.

But Clinton’s huge lead is more a result of the quirks of how the Democrats award delegates than it is her domination over Sanders with the voters. Super delegates comprise party officials, governors and members of Congress — essentially the Democratic establishment — who can back any candidate they prefer. All told, superdelegates make up almost one-third of the clinching total of delegates. So far, of the 493 super delegates who have committed to a candidate so far, 467 have pledged to back Clinton. Only 26 are backing Sanders. This is where Clinton is getting much of her huge lead from.

In Palmieri’s tweet, she used the #ImWithHer hashtag that’s become a slogan of the Clinton campaign. But significantly, she has the establishment on her side. If, for the sake of a hypothetical thought exercise, you swap the super delegates won by each candidate so far — giving 467 to Sanders instead of Clinton, and 26 to Clinton instead of Sanders and then add those to their respective delegate totals won through primaries and caucuses — Clinton’s lead completely evaporates and Sanders holds a 1,292 to 1,165 lead.

Now, Sanders can still change the minds of super delegates. Democratic strategist Joe Trippi points out that “He’ll have to start winning over superdelegates, but he’s got some convincing to do.” That’s a fact that’s not lost on the Sanders campaign. Tad Devine, a strategist for Sanders, referring to the possibility of persuading superdelegates to support the senator, told The Associated Press, “We do not believe it’s set in stone.”

Given that and the substantial campaign war chest Sanders still has at his disposal, it might be a tad early to trot out the “insurmountable” Twitter taunts.

Read the full story on delegate math at The Associated Press.


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CORRECTION: Due to some faulty math, the delegate premise in the original version of this article misstated a hypothetical statistic concerning Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’s delegate counts so far in the Democratic primary race. Instead of removing the superdelegates each candidate has won thus far — which we originally did along with subtracting from the wrong total — we meant to flip the superdelegate totals each candidate has won around, which would result in a Sanders lead of 1,292 to 1,165 for Clinton, not a Sanders lead of 799 to 672 over Clinton as a previous version of this article stated. We regret the error and any confusion that it caused.