What Sanders' String of Wins Means for Clinton in New York

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders' string of recent victories could mean the New York primary may be the most important contest yet for the Democrats.

Sanders has won seven of the last eight nominating contests, which experts say could lead to issues for front-runner Hillary Clinton.

"If she can hold the superdelegates, she'll coast -- or maybe limp -- to the nomination," James Campbell, a professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, told ABC News.

"The question is if this is putting pressure on the superdelegates to rethink their support for Clinton," he added.

After his latest victory in Wyoming over the weekend, Sanders said on "This Week" that "there's no question I think the momentum is with us."

Phillip Wallach, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said that it does "certainly feel like Clinton is on her heels," but he doesn't think it will last.

Moving forward, it is "obviously very important to her to win a majority of pledged delegates," Wallach said.

"To win on the strength of the superdelegates would cause some big headaches for her," he added.

ABC News estimates put Sanders at having 1,068 total delegates, including 31 super delegates, while Clinton still leads with 1,756 delegates, 469 of whom are superdelegates. But since superdelegates can change their minds up until the moment they cast their ballots at the convention, there is always the chance that those numbers may shift.

The next contest is in New York, a state where both candidates have ties, on April 19, and it could have major implications for both campaigns even if Clinton does win. The latest state poll, released by Quinnipiac University on March 31, had Clinton leading by 12 points.

"If she were to lose, or if it were very close in New York -- a state that she represented in the Senate -- that would be very devastating," Campbell said.

Campbell noted that even if Clinton won but Sanders still had "a respectable showing" of upwards of 40 percent of the vote, that could lead to problems for the Clinton camp.

"She might be able to survive that, and she probably would be able to survive that, but it would make it more difficult and it might have superdelegates rethinking their commitment to vote for Clinton on the first ballot," Campbell said.

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