LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — White House dreams fading, Bernie Sanders added another state to his tally against Hillary Clinton with a win in West Virginia on Tuesday — a victory that will do little to slow the former secretary of state’s steady march toward the Democratic presidential nomination.
Meanwhile, Republican Donald Trump also won there and in Nebraska, a week after he cleared the field of his remaining rivals. They were not victories likely to heal the party’s wounds, as some GOP leaders continue to hold off offering their endorsement of the party’s presumptive nominee.
The result in the West Virginia Democratic primary underscored the awkward position Clinton and the party’s establishment face as they attempt to turn their focus to the general election. Sanders has won 19 states to Clinton’s 23, but she is 94 percent of the way to winning the nomination — just 144 delegates short of the 2,383 required.
That means she could lose all the states left to vote by a landslide and still emerge as the nominee, so long as all her supporters among the party insiders known as superdelegates continue to back her.
Clinton needs to win just 14 percent of the delegates and uncommitted superdelegates at stake in the remaining contests, and she remains on track to capture the nomination in early June.
Still, Sanders is vowing to fight on. He campaigned in Oregon and California on Tuesday and his victory in West Virginia highlighted anew Clinton’s struggles to win over white men and independents — weaknesses Trump wants to exploit in the fall campaign.
“Let me be as clear as I can be, we are in the campaign to win the Democratic nomination,” Sanders said at a campaign event in Salem, Oregon. “We are going to fight for every last vote.”
Among those voting in the West Virginia Democratic primary, about a third said they would support Trump over either Clinton or Sanders in November. An additional 2 in 10 said they wouldn’t vote for either candidate. But 4 in 10 also said they consider themselves to be independents or Republicans, and not Democrats, according to exit polls.