Forget Super Tuesday—Here’s Why Democrats Need To Focus On March 15

March 1 may give Hillary Clinton many delegates, but it's March 15 that will definitively decide if Bernie Sanders has a shot at the nomination.

hillary rodham clinton and bernie sanders

Despite the fact that a recent Reuters poll had Bernie Sanders defeating Hillary Clinton nationally by 6 points, a difficult journey is ahead for Sanders. Super Tuesday is quickly approaching and he has not made significant strides in acquiring crucial votes within the African-American community.

Read More: Bernie Sanders Highlights His '60s Civil Rights Struggles

The states Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia all hold primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, March 1. Many of these contain large African-American voting populations—who all strongly favor Hillary Clinton.

Of these states, Georgia (102 delegates), Massachusetts (91), Minnesota (74), Texas (222), and Virginia (95) are the most significant due to their large delegate counts.

Clinton will receive the majority of these delegates. At this stage of the game, she will almost certainly win in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia by large margins, likely acquiring about 350 to 400 delegates in one fell swoop (which is a conservative estimate).

Sanders, the ultimate underdog, is only guaranteed a crushing victory in his home state of Vermont, which will award him a measly 16 delegates.

The remaining states are a tossup. Oklahoma has turned into an unexpectedly tight race—the most recent Public Policy Polling survey found only 2 points separate Clinton and Sanders. Massachusetts and Minnesota, as states in the north with large white populations, could easily emerge in favor of Sanders. Colorado has not been polled accurately for a few months, so it is difficult to guess what will happen there, although the fact that it is a closed caucus and voters were required to register as Democrats by Jan. 1, 2016 in order to participate does not bode well for Sanders’s youth-oriented and Independent voting block.

In a best-case scenario, Sanders could come away with five to six states as wins, although all with a modest number of delegates compared to the giant states Clinton is expected to conquer.

But all of this doesn’t matter.

Sanders is an underdog; therefore, the mainstream media spin will favor him if he does marginally better than the current, low expectations, regardless of actual math in delegate count. It will demonstrate he has some fighting power; this spin is what really matters in influencing voters, giving him momentum, and seeing if he can capitalize on this momentum for the races coming up on March 15.

These four key states are voting on March 15: Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio.

This is the day when Sanders will either emerge to fight another day or be forced to concede defeat.

After Clinton triumphs in the South, the playing field levels out for Sanders. Despite the fact that Clinton has a checkered past with the black community, they remain in steadfast support of her, and Sanders has been unable to change this. But these African-American voters matter less in the states voting on March 15, and Sanders has made huge gains in the polling.

A Baldwin Wallace University poll released on Wednesday found that of likely Democratic voters polled from Feb. 11 to Feb. 20 in Ohio, Sanders was beating Clinton by 1 percent (45 to 44 percent).

This is extremely significant; Ohio is the ultimate swing state, and if it currently favors Sanders, that suggests he has a very good chance of taking it during the general election. It also has a solid 143 delegates.

Clinton has strong leads in North Carolina (47 to 37 percent) and Illinois (51 to 32 percent), but these are not insurmountable, and Sanders has eaten up her leads before—he gained over 20 points in just a few weeks in Nevada.

It really comes down to the media’s spin of Sanders after Super Tuesday. March 15 will definitively decide his fate, much more than March 1. If he can walk away with Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina, he has a mathematical shot of beating Clinton. If she racks up all four states, it’s the end for Sanders.

Banner Image Credit: Reuters

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