Bernie Could Nab 'Yuge' Win in W. Virginia

Polls point to 'yes'—but FiveThirtyEight says it still won't significantly help his delegate count
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2016 10:03 AM CDT
Bernie Could Nab 'Yuge' Win in W. Virginia
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to his campaign volunteers at the local headquarters on Wednesday in Bowling Green, Ky.   (Miranda Pederson/Daily News via AP)

Bernie Sanders has doggedly remained in the race for the Democratic nomination, and Tuesday's primary in West Virginia seems likely to offer him some validation. Writing at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten argues that the Vermont senator is "likely to win" against Hillary Clinton in the Mountain State, citing two West Virginia polls that show Sanders with a "modest edge"—a Clinton defeat that would be a stunning reversal of her 2-1 win there in 2008 over Barack Obama, ABC News notes. FiveThirtyEight's polls-only stats (from West Virginia only) give Sanders a 7 percentage point win, while its "polls-plus" version (which includes state and national polls, as well as endorsements) gives him a 3-point lead. And Enten points out his boss, Nate Silver, worked up a model late last month that gave Sanders a 15-point win there, which would be his largest win in a primary other than his home state and nearby New Hampshire.

What Enten says are the main factors driving a potential Sanders win: The state's primary is semi-closed, meaning those who aren't registered as Dem or GOP can still vote in either primary, and the homogeneity of the state's population, which is 93% white (Sanders tends to do best in states with a similar demographic). Clinton also hasn't endeared herself to the coal community, based on her past plans to "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business," per the AP, while Sanders has used his "firebrand tone" to appeal to the region's poorest, ABC notes. But Enten points out that even if Sanders were to nail that 15-point win, he'd still only narrow the divide between himself and Clinton by four delegates—not much of a dent in her nearly 300-delegate lead. Meanwhile, Nebraska is holding its own primary Tuesday, a vote set against a backdrop of nervous Republicans trying to "grapple with [a] new Trump reality," per the Lincoln Journal Star. (Paul Krugman thinks Sanders is "blowing his own chance for a positive legacy.")

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