Hillary Clinton looks unbeatable in Florida but a strong Sanders performance in the industrial Midwest could give his campaign new life.
Bernie Sanders waves during a campaign stop on March 13 at Ohio State University in Columbus. | AP
ST. LOUIS — In the final days before Tuesday’s primaries, Bernie Sanders was closing fast in the polls in three of the five states voting, raising the prospect of yet another indecisive Democratic election night, this one marked by Hillary Clinton bolstering her delegate lead but Sanders performing well enough to slingshot into what his campaign argues will be its most important stretch yet.
The Vermont senator’s best case scenario Tuesday has him pulling out three victories – he’s within single digits of Clinton in the latest polls in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio – an outcome that would rattle the race and raise new questions about the durability of the Clinton campaign.
Even if Tuesday doesn’t significantly alter the delegate math that makes Clinton the prohibitive front-runner, a strong Sanders performance in the industrial Midwest will make possible the long campaign that the senator and his aides switched to after their big and unexpected loss in the Nevada caucuses.
Few large caucus states are left on the map, but seven states are up between March 15 and April 5, including the Arizona primary, four caucuses — in Idaho, Utah, Alaska, and Washington — where the Vermont senator is hoping to pick up steam again, and a sixth primary — Wisconsin — where he’s expecting a big win to cap off the two-week run. (Hawaii, caucusing on March 26, is rarely included in the calculus.)
Sanders is expecting to rely on his robust online fundraising operation that’s shown no public signs of slowing down — it raised $5 million in the day after polls closed in Michigan — even as the campaign burns through money rapidly to scale up across the country.